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Animals focus of Nativity exhibit at University of Dayton

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In Western culture, Nativity scenes typically include a donkey, a cow, a few sheep and a camel or two. a couple of sheep..but are you aware that other cultures include whatever animals are familiar to them? A Cajun artist may include some alligators and an armadillo, a Native American artist may create wolves and bison, and an Australian artist may feature a wombat, some kookaburra birds and a cockatoo around the manger.

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This year, the University of Dayton is highlighting the different animals that show up in Nativity sets from around the world in their annual Christmas display of Nativities. 'At the Manger: And Animals Were There" is an all-new display of Nativities from the Marian Library collection, available for the viewing pleasure of the public on the first floor of the Roesch Library at the University of Dayton. The exhibit is free and runs through Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 and features four displays of more than 200 Nativities (also called crèches) taken from the collection of the University's Marian Library. The exhibit is open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week. The exhibit is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

This year's emphasis on the animals at the manger highlights ecology and the natural world and our responsibility to care for nature as Jesus cares for us. Beautiful artistic renderings of a wide variety of creatures - from rabbits to cheetahs to snails - are featured in the Nativities from around the world.

The Nativity collections continue on the 2nd and 7th floors. In addition to fun children's activities at the library, World Nativity lesson plans are also available, prepared by education majors from the University's School of Education and Health Sciences. Suitable for home-school lessons, church schools and families, the lesson plans for pre-K through 8th grades can be downloaded on the exhibit website. Scout participation patches can be earned by Girl Scouts of Western Ohio for visiting the exhibits.

The Stable Store on the 2nd floor features original, hand-made Nativity-related items created by U.S. artists and global fair-trade artisans. Proceeds from the sale of these items support the annual exhibit and provide fair-trade opportunities for artisans around the world. Located on the second floor of Roesch Library, the Stable Store is open weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the exhibit and 1 to 5 p.m. weekends through Dec. 22.

For more information about the exhibits, hours, directions and parking, go here or call 937-229-4265. Guided group tours are available on request by calling 937-229-4214.

Bonus! 'Africa meets Asia, meets Australia' at the The Gallery St. John at Mount Saint John, 4400 Shakertown Road, Dayton, Ohio features an additional selection of Nativities from the Marian Library collection. The Gallery St. John exhibit is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays through Jan. 6, 2014; other times by appointment. Call 937-320-5405 or visit Gallery St. John for more information, or contact Cilla Shindell, director of media relations, at 937-229-3257 or shindell@udayton.edu.

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