Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Largest U.S. Crèche Collection Can Be Found At UD

University of Dayton
This nativity by Pascale Delorme is made out of clay and hand-painted.

The University of Dayton normally has 5,000 visitors a year to its vast crèche collection, which includes nativity scenes drawn on a grain of rice, one on life-size cardboard, and depictions of Jesus' birth using Coke cans and kitchen utensils. This year, people can still see it; they just have to go online to view the 3,600 nativity scenes from more than 100 countries.

To understand why UD's Marian Libraryhas what librarian Jillian Ewalt calls "the most significant" crèche collection in the U.S., you have to know the library's mission. All research has to do with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The library started its International Crèche Collectionin 1994, which is almost entirely based on contributions from friends and donors.

"We received a major acquisition of 2,000 nativity sets from an Australian donor - Elisabeth Van Mullekom-Cserep - in 2007, which really jump-started the crèche collection," according to Ewalt.

Credit University of Dayton
Vojêch Kubašta made this paper nativity scene.

Some of Ewalt's favorites include paper nativity scenes from an artist in Czechoslovakia. "And those are the paper crèches of artist Vojêch Kubašta. Many of these have exuberant colors and mechanical or moveable parts."

She says the museum occasionally seeks out nativity scenes to purchase but largely relies on donations.

View other parts of the collection here.

Credit University of Dayton
This nativity scene was made by Jenny Miller

It turns out an Ohio woman also has a big collection- 800 nativity scenes.She was featured in December 2019 on CBS along with the Marian Library.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.