Hundreds of nativities on display at Epworth By The Sea through mid-January


Exhibit includes about 200 from June Brown’s personal collection, dozens of international nativities from Moore Museum permanent collection

By Terry Dickson*

Just about every Christian home has a Nativity scene on display during the Christmas season.

June Brown has so many her house won’t hold them so she exhibits them each year at the Arthur J. Moore Methodist Museum on St. Simons Island.

There are about 200 arranged on tables in the atrium of the museum at the Epworth By The Sea Methodist center, and they’ll be there for the public to see, along with the museum’s permanent collection, through Jan. 15, said Anne Packard, director of the museum.

During the Thanksgiving holiday each year, Brown comes to the museum and sets up her Nativities, Packard said. They include wood carvings, ceramics, fabric and other media.

She comes during Thanksgiving because she likes to work when it’s quiet and there’s no traffic in the museum, Packard said.

Church members often give Nativities to pastors’ wives as gifts, and Packard said she thought that was how Brown amassed her collection, but that was wrong.

“She collected most of these herself or were gifts from their children,” she said.

Brown has plans to catalog her collection with an explanation of each.

Brown’s collection is at the front entrance, but the museum’s collection of international Nativities is also on permanent display near the rear of the rambling building.

It has Nativities made of painted gourds, woven banana leaves from the Philippines, dark carved African figures from Kenya, happy Aleut characters, a totem Nativity from Alaska, olive wood from Israel and whitewashed terra cotta from Bangladesh.

Nativities require little interpretation and are easily recognized by visitors, Packard said.

“Everyone can relate to it, no matter what religion, not matter what time of year, no matter what age. Everyone understands the Nativity,” she said.

The museum welcomes visitors from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It will be closed for Christmas Dec. 20 through Jan. 1.

*Reprinted courtesy of the Times-Union