Location: Medieval Sculpture Hall
Lighting Ceremonies: Sunday through Thursday at 4:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30 p.m.
The Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque crèche at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a long-standing yuletide tradition in New York, is now on view for the holiday season through January 6, 2015. The brightly lit, 20-foot blue spruce—with a collection of 18th-century Neapolitan angels and cherubs hovering among its boughs and groups of realistic crèche figures flanking the Nativity scene at its base—will once again delight holiday visitors in the Museum’s Medieval Sculpture Hall. Set in front of the 18th-century Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid, with selected Christmas music in the background and daily lighting ceremonies, the installation reflects the spirit of the holiday season.
This exhibit of the crèche is made possible by gifts to The Christmas Tree Fund and the Loretta Hines Howard Fund.
The towering tree is adorned with 22 cherubs and 55 gracefully suspended angels. The landscape at the base displays 69 figures celebrating the Christmas Nativity. This display mingles three basic elements that are traditional to 18th-century Naples: the Nativity, with adoring shepherds and their flocks; the procession of the three Magi, whose exotically dressed retinue echoes the merchants and travelers one may have encountered in bustling Naples at the time of the crèche’s creation; and, most distinctively, colorful peasants and townspeople engaged in their quotidian tasks. The theatrical scene is enhanced by 50 charming animals—sheep, goats, horses, dogs, a camel, and an elephant—and by background pieces that create a dramatic setting for the Nativity, including the ruins of a Roman temple, several quaint houses, and a typical Italian fountain with a lion’s-mask waterspout.
To read more about the Tree, click here.
History of the Tree Installation
The annual Christmas display has evolved through the generosity, enthusiasm, and dedication of the late Loretta Hines Howard, who began collecting crèche figures in 1925. Mrs. Howard conceived the idea of presenting the elaborate Nativity scene within a Christmas tree, angels swirling upward to the crowning star.
This unusual combination was first presented to the public in 1957, with the Metropolitan’s exhibition of Mrs. Howard’s collection. Since 1964, more than two hundred 18th-century Neapolitan crèche figures have been given to the Museum by Loretta Hines Howard, and they have been displayed each holiday season for nearly 60 years. Linn Howard, Mrs. Howard’s daughter, worked with her mother for many years on the annual installation. Since her mother's death in 1982, she has continued to create new settings for the Museum's ensemble. In keeping with family tradition, Linn Howard's daughter, artist Andrea Selby Rossi, joined her mother again this year in a major advisory role creating the display.
Visitors can listen to several related audio messages as part of the Museum’s Audio Guide program. Audio Guides are available for rental ($7, $6 for Members, $5 for children under 12).
The Audio Guide is sponsored by Bloomberg.
As part of the Christmas celebration, several performances are being presented. For information and tickets, visit www.metmuseum.org/tickets
or call 212-570-3949. In addition, the Museum offers many holiday-themed programs. For more information, visit www.metmuseum.org/events/programs.
Medieval Decorations to Mark “Christmastide” at
The Cloisters through January 6
The wreaths and garlands that deck The Cloisters museum and gardens for the holiday season are all hand-made from plants linked with the celebration of Christmastide in the Middle Ages. Striking installations of flowers, fruits, nuts, and evergreens, inspired by medieval sources, are on display throughout the museum through January 6. Visitors to The Cloisters will pass under a great arch of holly—the plant associated above all others with the medieval feast—to enter the museum. Inside, the doorways of the Main Hall are adorned with arches of ivy, apples, hazelnuts, and rosehips, and the iron candelabra in the galleries are dressed with greens and roses. An extensive collection of evergreen topiary, as well as displays of rosemary, cyclamen, citrus, and other potted plants appropriate to the season are on view in the Saint-Guilhem and Cuxa Cloisters.
Education Programs at The Cloisters
Holiday-themed early music performances are taking place at The Cloisters. For ticket pricing and availability, please visit www.metmuseum.org/events/programs/concerts-and-performances or call (212) 650-2290. A family festival, Voices from the Middle Ages—with the award-winning Story Pirates assuming the roles of kings, monks, queens, and saints, and interacting with families throughout the galleries—will take place on December 26 and 27.
Note: Admission is free to the main building and The Cloisters for children under the age of 12 accompanied by adults. Both locations of the Museum are closed on December 25 and January 1.
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December 23, 2014