Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Museum of Art



Steve Christensen

Winter Exhibitions at LUMA Celebrate Holiday Traditions

Art and Faith of the Crèche Returns; The Hanukkah Lamp Debuts


Art and Faith of the Crèche
The James and Emilia Govan Crèche Collection, assembled over a 30-year period, comprises more than 500 crèches, or nativity scenes, from around the world. The collection includes crèches from more than 100 countries and cultures, including works by Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Taoist artists. This year, the exhibition will include more than 50 crèches new to the exhibition, as well as beloved crèches from past years.

Art and Faith of the Crèche, made possible by a major gift from the James and Emilia Govan Crèche Collection, demonstrates how various cultures interpret the Nativity with the inclusion of local architecture, clothing, animals, and materials. The range of expressions is diverse—from an intricate woodcarving from Lithuania to a crèche from Uganda made almost entirely of banana leaves to a Kyrgyzstani scene depicting Mary and Joseph wearing marmot fur hats in a yurt.

James Govan, who worked in economic development for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and his late wife, Emilia, traveled extensively building their collection. Today, Mr. Govan continues to collect crèches and seeks out rare examples from countries not yet represented in the collection. He has also written a book based on the collection, Art of the Crèche, which is available in LUMA’s gift shop.



The Hanukkah Lamp: Modernist Style and the Jewish Experience
With more than 70 lamps created by Maurice Ascalon, Ludwig Wolpert, Reuven Davagi, Hans Teppich, and the Wallersteiner Family, this exhibition offers a unique perspective on the production of artifacts at a time marked by profound transformation. The lamps in this exhibition were made between the 1930s and the 1950s. For refugees from Europe who came to British-mandate Palestine, the making of these lamps was a process that encouraged reflection on the history of a holiday as well as a tool for coming to terms with new and unfamiliar experiences. Far from constituting merely a formal element, the use of modernist style by these artists stood for a defiant reassertion of a lost Europe brutally dismantled by the Nazis.

Hanukkah lamps, spanning the art/craft divide, elicit powerful family memories of this time of year. They are found mainly in the home and are often reproduced affordably. In keeping with this tradition, the Hanukkah lamps in this exhibition were made from inexpensive copper alloys, modestly priced and intended for new immigrants to Israel, although they came to be popular with Jewish communities around the world.

Public Programs:
All events take place at LUMA, 820 North Michigan Avenue

Walk-thru with the Curators
Tuesday, November 29 at 6 p.m.
Free Admission

Join us for this free tour of Art and Faith of the Crèche and The Hanukkah Lamp with LUMA’s Curator of Education Ann Meehan and independent curator Rhoda Rosen.

Chanukah/Hannuka/Hanukkah: No Matter How You Spell It, It’s Still about Miracles
Tuesday, December 6 at 6 p.m.
$4 / Free for members and Loyola students, faculty, and staff

Learn about the history and traditions of Hanukkah, perhaps Judaism’s best-known holiday, from an outstanding teacher, Rabbi Michael Zedek of Emanuel Congregation, Chicago. Also, enjoy some tasty Hanukkah treats!

Opening Reception for Art and Faith of the Crèche and The Hanukkah Lamp
Thursday, December 8 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
$15 / Free for members

A Lamp Unto My Feet & The Star of Bethlehem
Tuesday, December 13 at 6 p.m.

Join us for an evening of holiday music with the Overtones Ensemble. Music by Ernest Bloch, Felix Mendelssohn, and Franz Liszt will be performed on the violin, violoncello, and piano.


Image Credits: 
Antoni Kaminski, Poland, Collection of James and Emilia Govan

Ludwig Y. Wolpert (b. Germany, 1900, d. United States, 1981), Lived in Jerusalem, 1935–1948, Bronze, 10 ½ x 11 x 3 inches. Aaron Ha’Tell Collection, Wilmette  

About LUMA
Opened in 2005, the Loyola University Museum of Art is dedicated to exploring, promoting, and understanding art and artistic expression that illuminates the enduring spiritual questions of all cultures and societies. As a museum with an interest in education and educational programming, LUMA reflects the University’s Jesuit mission and is dedicated to helping people of all creeds explore the roots of their faith and spiritual quests. Located at Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus, the museum occupies the first three floors of the University’s historic Lewis Towers on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue. For more information, visit the museum’s website at LUC.edu/luma.

Art illuminating the spirit!