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'A Labor of Love': Marian Library's Annual Nativity Exhibit

By Jillian Ewalt, Librarian for Visual Resources

December 2, 2019 – January 12, 2020

Roesch Library first-floor gallery and Marian Library, seventh floor
Free and open to the public

In 2009, the Marian Library and its dedicated volunteers turned their small annual display of Nativity scenes into a full-scale exhibit that has become a beloved Christmastime tradition for thousands of families in the Dayton region. At the Manger: World Nativity Traditions features selections from the Marian Library’s growing collection of over 3,600 Nativities representing over 100 countries. 

This year, service, dedication and volunteerism take center stage. At the Manger is the product of approximately 6,000 hours of faithful service by dozens of volunteer craftspersons, carpenters and docents. The 2019-20 exhibit gives tribute to these volunteers who, together, curated it from their favorite settings.

On the first floor of Roesch Library, visitors can see a display of the popular Provençal Village with its more than 150 figures (santons); a recently restored 1950s wax Nativity from Mexico; a modular display about the volunteers who curated “A Labor of Love”; and an array of volunteer favorites.

In the Marian Library, on the seventh floor of Roesch Library, visitors can view 20 paintings by artist Ruth Sanderson; Nativity sets from over 30 countries displayed in a series of boxes, drawers and cubes; and the settings of longtime volunteer and retired UD mathematics professor Harry Mushenheim, who has crafted over 50 Nativity settings.

For more information or to schedule a tour, please visit

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