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At the Manger: A Docent's Experience

By Michele Devitt, Curatorial Assistant and Volunteer Coordinator

It is such a joy to give tours of the Marian Library’s crèche collection and hear all the positive feedback from visitors. This season, At the Manger has its main display in the Marian Library on the seventh floor of Roesch. There is also a display on the fourth floor of Fitz Hall where our crèche workshop is housed. Docents, like myself, have been very busy giving tours of both displays.

At Fitz Hall, student groups have enjoyed a “seek & find” where they try to decide what materials the different nativities are made from. There are twenty different materials like giant fennel, glass, paper, clay, wax, cork and straw to name a few. Another highlight at Fitz Hall is the miniature train, ‘The Ten Stations of the Nativity’. This twelve-minute presentation captivates people of all ages and is a marvelous teaching tool on the Nativity and childhood of Jesus. As the train goes around the track visitors try to guess where it will stop. It is such a delight for those who know what event is coming next. I enjoy showing the difference between the real rocks verses the ones we made. They are hard to tell apart!

Each Nativity we display has a commentary that includes the name of the artists, when known, and what country the set is from. During one school group tour, several students asked if we had Nativities from the country of their family origin. It was so wonderful to be able to show them a cultural expression of faith tied to their heritage.

People are amazed at the varied interpretations of the artists. As a docent, I am amazed at people's comments as they interpret the beauty that these Nativities express. I learn something new each time I give a tour. The one thing I've always known, however, is that this is an amazing and treasured collection! If you haven’t seen it yet … don’t miss out!

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