Collection will inspire all eyes

     (PNAN-MS) – Awed by an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 1985, Jewell Younger Graeber of Marks found the “Angel Tree” to be a call of legacy, “The children of New York are so fortunate to see this.  The children of Mississippi would never have this experience.” But they will, on December 5 when the “Bethlehem Tree: Younger Foundation Crèche Collection” goes on view at the Mississippi Museum of Art.

      “This display was specifically collected and is displayed for the children of Mississippi,” says Gay Graeber Stubbs of Oxford, who is the curator as well as Mrs. Graeber’s daughter. “When my mother and daddy viewed the breathtaking Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Angel Tree, Mother watched the faces of small children light up with wonder at the scene…” This inspiring display features a 16-feet-tall tree and more than 100 authentic eighteenth-century Neapolitan angel and Nativity figures in an opulent Italian crèche setting.  In addition to the traditional figures of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and the Three Magi, the collection includes a host of angels and more than 75 townspeople from all walks of life populating the space on and around the Bethlehem Tree and breathing life into the Nativity scene.

       In Italy, these Nativity scenes are known as crèches or presepi.  The word crèche (pronounced “kresh”) is derived from the French word for manger, the trough used for livestock feed in which the infant Jesus was placed after His birth.  Italians refer to the Nativity as “il presepe,” from the Latin praesaepe, prae “in front,” and saepire, “to enclose,” together translated as manger.

     Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with reenacting the first Nativity in 1223 near the Italian town of Greccio.  He prepared a manger with straw and surrounded it with figures of animals.  After the evening’s celebration of Christmas Mass, numerous claims of miracles surfaced, and the practice of recreating the Nativity spread throughout Europe.

     The lighting ceremony on Tuesday, December 7, is at 5:15 pm, which includes seasonal music performed by St. Andrew’s Cathedral Choir, along with cookies, cider, hot chocolate, and a cash bar for adults.  The public is invited and admission is free.

     Admission to view the tree and crèche is free and open to the public. For information about the Bethlehem Tree: Younger Foundation Crèche Collection, exhibitions, viewing hours, admission fees, and programs, call 601.960.1515 or 1.866.VIEW ART, or visit

Published by on November 2010. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Marketplace Guide, At the Museums dept, PaletteBoards Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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