Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Museum of Art



Steve Christensen

New Gift Brings a Holiday Tradition to LUMA

James and Emilia Govan Crèche Collection Opens December 5

CHICAGO, October 20, 2009 – This December, the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) will kick off a new Chicago holiday tradition with the exhibition Art and Faith of the Crèche. The exhibition, which is made possible by a major gift from the James and Emilia Govan Crèche Collection, debuts Saturday, December 5, and runs through January 17, 2010.

The James and Emilia Govan Crèche Collection consists of more than 500 nativity scenes from around the world, and was assembled over a 30-year period. The collection includes crèches from more than 100 countries and cultures, including works by Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Taoist artists.

“We are extremely pleased that the collection is coming to LUMA, as it reinforces the Museum’s mission of the exploration of the human spirit and the spiritual in art,” says Pam Ambrose, director of LUMA. “The first time we hosted this show in 2007, the response was overwhelming, so we expect it to be a very popular show not just this year, but every holiday season.”

The exhibition demonstrates how both Western and non-Western cultures interpret the Nativity. Through the inclusion of local architecture, clothing, animals, and materials, the Nativity story becomes very personalized. The range of expressions is diverse—from modernist-looking metal figures from Kenya to delicately modeled baroque sculptures of Italy to the Asian dress of Thailand and Mongolia.

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.

Looking ahead, Art and Faith of the Crèche will become an annual exhibition at LUMA that will run for six weeks during the holiday season. LUMA plans 
to rotate the collection each year and include examples of crèches from other local collections in the future.

Art and Faith of the Crèche is also partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Public Programs

An Artist’s Perspective
December 8, at 6 p.m.
LUMA, 820 N. Michigan Avenue

Jean Unsworth served on the Loyola fine arts faculty for more than 16 years. While teaching hundreds of students, she worked on her own art, producing both painting and sculpture. A practicing artist whose work is part of Art and Faith of the Crèche, Ms. Unsworth will bring a unique perspective to the works on view as she walks visitors through the exhibition. This event is free and open to the public.

Meet the Collector
December 12, at 11:15 a.m.
LUMA, 820 N. Michigan Avenue

James Govan began collecting crèches with his late wife, Emilia, in the 1970s. To date, they have amassed over 500 crèches from more than 100 countries and cultures. Stop in and enjoy this informal walk-through with Mr. Govan as he discusses his favorite pieces and the stories behind them. Following the tour, he will sign copies of the exhibition catalogue. This event is free, with museum admission, and open to the public.

VOX3 Vocal Collective: An Evening of Sacred and Spiritual Music and Holiday Favorites 
December 15, at 6 p.m.
LUMA, 820 N. Michigan Avenue

Celebrate the holiday season with Chicago’s dynamic vocal collective, VOX3. Enjoy a performance of sacred and spiritual music, as well as holiday favorites. Soprano Alexia Kruger, baritone Brad Jungwirth, and pianist Myron Silberstein will perform selections from Dvorak’s Biblical Songs, Bloch’s Psalm 22, Myron Silberstein’s Psalm 13, Ravel’s Kaddish, John Carter’s Cantata (a setting of five spirituals), and Morton Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium. This event is free and open to the public.

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!