Combining their love of Christmas, travel and ethnic traditions, retired foreign language teachers Susanne and Bill Gay were drawn to the wide range of artistic interpretations of Christ's birth.
Without planning to be “collectors,” Bill and Susanne found themselves acquiring new Nativities, both by purchase and as gifts from family and friends, over a span of 35 years.
When the number grew to more than 500, they sought a home for the collection. The permanent installation at Holy Cross currently includes 500 of these Nativities, from more than 65 different countries. They range from traditional to whimsical, in wide-ranging media, from fabric, carved wood, stained glass and crystal, to recycled soda cans, newsprint, seed pods, banana bark and chocolate.
The cabinets were designed and constructed by the team at Essmann Millwork and Cabinetry, Germantown, WI. The project was made possible by the generous gifts and memorials from members and friends of Holy Cross.