Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Museum of Art

Art Illuminating the Spirit

The James and Emilia Govan Crèche Collection

LUMA's annual holiday exhibition, Art and Faith of the Crèche: The Collection of James and Emilia Govan, continues each year with over 100 nativity scenes. These works represent only a small part of the Govans’ gift that was donated in 2009.

The first crèche the Govans brought into their home came from Italy and was a gift from Jim to his wife Emilia. This present piqued an interest in crèches and sparked a passion for collecting. When people learned of the Govans’ interest, family and friends began to add to the collection. Over the course of almost forty years, the Govans amassed over 500 crèches, representing over 100 countries. Many are unique in their depiction of the nativity story and incorporate elements, such as architecture, clothing, animals, gifts, and materials, that are particular to the artist’s native country.

Today, Mr. Govan continues to collect crèches and seeks out examples from countries not yet represented in the collection. He has also written a book based on his collection called Art of the Crèche: Nativities from Around the World, which is available in the Museum Shop.