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El Nacimiento: 32 Years of Awe

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In 1977, Maria Luisa Tena - in partnership with the Tucson Museum of Art - put a plan into action. She put together a huge and impressive traditional Mexican nativity scene, El Nacimiento.

The idea originated when Tena's mother passed away and left quite a collection of nativity scenes and other figurines, said Phil McArthur, a museum docent. In memory of her mother, Tena added to the collection and displayed it at the Tucson Museum of Art.

For the past 32 years, Tena has been spending months in advance setting up the unique display. Then after the show would close, Tena would personally take it down.

For the first time in 32 years, Tena will not be taking down El Nacimiento after it closes in March. This is the final installation of the nativity scene by Tena.

El Nacimiento will close to the public like always on the last weekend in March and will reopen its doors for viewing on the first weekend in November.

Those who are returning viewers to the event will recognize that this is the first year where the river and the foliage are not real. Also, the glass wall that separates the viewer from the art is now sealed on all of the seams.

CommunityWalk Map - Tucson Museum of Art

Although the differences are there, it is still the same incredible display of scenes from traditional rural Mexico and from Bible stories all combined into one large piece of art laid out on 32 different layers.

McArthur said that there will be a festival in November just like there has been in the past in the courtyard adjacent to the building it is housed in.

Since it opened 32 years ago, El Nacimiento has been a free exhibit and will continue to be so. The exhibit is intentionally housed in the oldest building in the facility, made of adobe and accessible without having to pay the entrance fee.

Below are ten pictures that encompass the entire expanse of the display. Laid out according to the position of the picture, there are overlaps but this is intentional in order to show the incredible depth to the whole display.



Written by Josh Schaa You are reading El Nacimiento: 32 Years of Awe articles

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