Photos by Cheryl Landes
I’d never heard of any museum that extensively collected Nativity scenes until I discovered the International Crèche Museum in Attleboro, Massachusetts. I found it during a trip to the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette to see the Christmas Celebration of Lights.
The museum has the largest collection of Nativities in New England – more than 1,000 from at least 100 countries. They come in all shapes and sizes and are made from wood, beads, clay, paper, and many other materials:
Driftwood from Canada
Bottle caps from Kenya
Gingerbread from Mississippi
Bread from Massachusetts
The Rev. Msgr. Charles DesRuisseaux, a retired priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, started the collection in 1973 after his aunt gave him a nativity set she made with unusual materials like old spools from the Amoskeag Mill in Manchester and egg shells. He donated the entire collection to the shrine, and it continues to grow.
The International Crèche Museum and shrine are located at 947 Park Street in Attleboro (get directions).
Since my visit to the International Crèche Museum, I found another museum that has an even larger collection of Nativity scenes – 3,500 – at the Marian Library at the University of Dayton, Ohio. View each piece from a list organized alphabetically by country at the International Crèche Collection of the Marian Library page.