“World Nativities” Exhibition: In the News

Glencairn Museum News | Number 12, 2012

This terracotta figurine of the Flight into Egypt was made in a ceramic workshop in Cairo, along with a 12-piece Nativity set. The clothing styles are typical of rural Upper Egypt. The complete set, commissioned in 2010 by St. Mark’s Coptic Museum in Toronto, Canada, can be seen in Glencairn’s exhibition, Follow the Star: World Nativities


Figure 1: Nativity from Cameroon (West Central Africa).


The Philadelphia Inquirer recently ran an article about Alan and Mary Liz Pomeroy of East Bradford, Chester County, titled, “A Way with a Manger is Their Gift to Share: Couple Donate Collection to Museum.” The Pomeroys have gifted more than 100 of their museum-quality Nativities to Glencairn. Of the 36 Nativities included in this year’s show, more than one dozen were donated by the couple. For the Inquirer article the Pomeroys were interviewed in their home in East Bradford, and Ed and Kirsten Gyllenhaal, the co-curators of the exhibition, were interviewed at Glencairn.

According to Ed Gyllenhaal, three-dimensional Nativities are produced almost everywhere there are Christians, and many of them can be described as “folk art.” Nativities are often crafted from whatever materials are locally available, and the clothing styles, the animals present at the manger, and even the gifts brought by the Wise Men can vary depending on the geographical location or culture of the artisan. “So many people grow up with Nativities, and they have such fond memories of them,” said Gyllenhaal. “We want the exhibition to illustrate that Christians all over the world have adapted the tradition to their own culture.”


Figure 2: Mexican leather Nativity made by Armando Guzman.


The Pomeroys collected many of their Nativities while living and traveling around the world during Alan’s career as an executive with General Motors. They have been donating their collection to Glencairn in stages over the last several years. As part of the acquisition process, the Gyllenhaals conducted detailed interviews with the couple about each set, and also researched the sets independently. Preparing for a move to California, the Pomeroys have now parted with almost their entire collection. According to Mary Liz, “We wanted them in a place where they would be displayed, taken care of, and loved.” However, Alan and Mary Liz plan to return to Glencairn each year during the Christmas season to see the annual exhibition.


Figure 3: ABC's Channel 6 “FYI Philly” crew filming in Glencairn's Great Hall.


“FYI Philly,” which 6abc calls “Philadelphia’s premier lifestyle show,” will be airing a TV spot about Glencairn’s World Nativities exhibition and the “Christmas in the Castle” tour. When the 6abc camera crew visited Glencairn they filmed and photographed nearly every Nativity in the exhibition, along with an operating vintage Lionel steam locomotive beneath the Christmas tree, and a variety of stops along the “Christmas in the Castle” tour. It will be interesting to see what makes the final cut!


Figure 4: Nativity from Estremoz, Portugal.


Glencairn has published a special online Web resource, “Do You See What I See: Imagery in Nativity Scenes,” to help visitors to the exhibition understand the origin and meaning of the images found in Nativity art. In addition, a YouTube video of the exhibition, created by local photographer Brent Schnarr, highlights a few of the Nativities on view this year on the first floor of Glencairn.

A complete archive of past issues of Glencairn Museum News is available online here.