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Crèche Collection

A Collection of Nativity Sets: Christian Imagery Around the Birth of  Christ

The Marian Library Crèche Collection began in 1984 and was originally based on the generous contributions of friends and donors. It has grown into an extensive collection of over 3,600 Nativities from around the world. The Crèche Collection celebrates diverse Nativity traditions, adapted in different materials and styles, from over 100 cultures.

The Crèche Collection is one of the Marian Library's largest and most popular collections — especially around the Christmas season. The expansive collection is cultivated and conserved for use in exhibits, campus engagement and community outreach. 

Take a Look
Browse Online

Travel the world as you browse a selection of Nativities from the collection.

View Digitized Selections
Visit the Crèche Museum

This dedicated space showcases a semi-permanent display of Nativities from the collection and serves as the home of the popular "Mirror of Hope" art installation. This space is open during normal Marian Library hours.

Related Reads
Faith/Mission 11.29.23

Learn about a tradition that helps people to imagine the birth of Christ.

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Libraries 12.16.22

An original Koepnick Nativity set is now part of the Marian Library Crèche Collection.

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Libraries 01.04.21

Celebrating the Epiphany with the Marian Library Crèche Collection.  

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Who Is at the Manger?

Nativity sets show each culture's take on the Christmas story.

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Listen and Learn
Audio Tour
Originally created for the Nativities and the Natural World exhibit, this audio tour explores the intersection of Christmas and nature through the Marian Library’s Nativity sets, artwork and more. 
Open the Audio Tour
Featured Videos
Mirror of Hope

The Mirror of Hope, a sculpture by Kevin Hanna, is a panorama encompassing the sweep of Christianity from the Creation to the City of God. (2017)

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The Nativity Narrative

Highlighting select Nativities from the popular Marian Library Crèche Collection, we present to you the Gospel of Luke (2:1-19) read aloud by Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M., president emeritus of the University of Dayton. (2020)

The images in the video are from the Marian Library Crèche Collection and listed in order of appearance:
• “Mirror of Hope” (detail), Kevin Hanna, United States (ML.0117.16,22)
• “Shelter Seeking,” Horst Störinger, Austria (ML.2642)
• “A Shepherd’s Feast,” J.B. Sengayire, Rwanda (ML.2608)
• “Counting Sheep,” Franziska Torti-Roten, Switzerland (ML.1820)
• “As It Was in the Beginning” (detail), John Schnegg, Canada (ML.0250.01)
• “Magic Carpet” (detail), Jeanette Richards and Sandra Penfield, United States (ML.0092.05)
• “The Wonders of Telling,” Mary Lucero, United States (ML.1116.14)
• “The Center of the Earth,” Robert Himmelbauer, Austria (ML.0158.17, 18)

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CBS Sunday Morning Segment

Interview with former Marian Library director Sarah B. Cahalan covering the 2019 "At the Manger" exhibit and the Crèche collection. (2019)

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The Provencal Village Display

The story of the Provencal Village Nativity set. A history of the tradition and an explanation of the figures included in the set. (2018)

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The Davis Santon Collection

This interview with collectors and donors to the Marian Library Bob and Judy Davis tells the story of one particular set they purchased in southern France. (2014)

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