Art and Faith of the Creche

Christmas is upon us, and with all the hustle and bustle, it's easy to forget the true reason for the season. Take a break from Mag Mile shopping and head to the Loyola University Museum of Art, located just across from the historic Water Tower. The current exhibit, Art and Faith of the Crèche: The Collection of James and Emilia Govan. showcases crèches from around the world, each reflecting a unique, artistic perspective on the Nativity. Another new exhibit, Swaddled in Stone: Shona Sculptures of the Holy Family, shares six beautiful sculptures of the Holy Family created by Shona sculptors from Zimbabwe.

Located on the Magnificent Mile in Lewis Towers, a historic 1926 Gothic Revival building and part of the Water Tower Campus of Loyola University Chicago, the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) was founded in 2005. The museum is dedicated to exploring, promoting, and understanding art and artistic expression that illuminates the enduring spiritual questions of all cultures and societies, best illustrated in the first floor lobby by the Windows of Faith, which represent the five major faiths of Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.

The Museum houses a medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque collection, known as the Martin D'Arcy, S.J. Collection, other museum permanent collections, and rotating exhibitions.
The Art and Faith of the Crèche exhibit showcases how artists recreate the nativity scene with clothing, architecture, and figures from their native lands. My children and I visit every year and enjoyed guessing where the crèches are from; our visits give us pause and help us to keep the story of Christmas close to our hearts.

Art and Faith of the CrechePainted wood crèche made in Nicaragua, 2010

Docents are on hand to give free tours, and there is a kid-friendly table set up with a nativity scene that kids are welcome to play with. See if you can spot the crèche presented in honor of Pope Francis, a Gaucho style nativity that represents the people of Tierra del Fuego in the southern region of Argentina.

The Shona Sculptures of the Holy Family exhibit is remarkable for the distinctive style of the artists: skillful carving, burnishing, and rustication evoke different textures in the stone, bringing the Holy Family to life.

The LUMA gift shop features some lovely and affordable crèches for sale - including a teeny-weeny matchbox sized crèche - so you can add to your own crèche collection at home, too.

When you pass Chicago's historic Water Tower, steer your family towards the LUMA at 870 North Michigan Avenue. The LUMA is open on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. (free admission) and Wednesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. For more information, visit luc.edu/luma/

Photos Courtesy of Loyola University Chicago