Friday, December 14, 2012

Totally Texas -- Artistry of the nativity

Dallas Arboretum

8525 Garland Road, Dallas


Of all the special displays at the annual Holiday at the Arboretum, none are more loved than the nativity collection of the Harrington family. After collecting hundreds of crèche scenes over a fifty-year period, Dr. and Mrs. Harrington donated their collection to the Dallas Arboretum in 2001. Displayed every three years, it’s back this year, along with an encore display of actor George Dvorsky’s collection.

Both collections fill the DeGolyer House on the Arboretum grounds, on view through December 31. The Arboretum is open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily (closed Christmas Day), with self-guided tours of the DeGolyer House from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The Dvorsky nativities fill the DeGolyer library with more than 250 scenes from around the world. Fashioned from materials as diverse as crystal, cross stitch, and metal car parts, it ranges from the serene to the whimsical, including one of my favorites -- a penguin crèche, the infant cradled on the mother bird’s feet. Dvorsky’s collection first visited the Arboretum in 2009, when he learned about its displays while appearing in a Dallas Summer Musical production.

Included in the collections this year are large scenes designed by Dallas Opera designer Tommy Bourgeois in the living room, with the work of the late set designer and costumer Peter Hall in the dining room.

The Arboretum also hosts special activities from noon to 4 p.m. each Friday through Sunday through December 23. Visitors can see a live reindeer, take pictures with strolling characters costumed as Frosty and Rudolph, and chat with Santa Claus.

The Chihuly glass exhibits remain on display through December 31, although tickets for the nighttime viewings are now sold out.

Tickets to the Arboretum’s daytime events are $15 for adults, $9 for children (age 3-12), with an additional $10 parking fee. However, discounted tickets and parking are available Monday through Wednesday, through December 19 (next week). See


Today, December 14, is also your chance to get a behind the scenes look at another kind of collection -- the collections database of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. In the “Meet the Museum” program at 11:30 a.m., collections staff present some of their favorite catalogues items related to the JFK assassination and discuss what happens before an item goes into its online database. Free with museum admission or $5 for the program only. The museum is located at 411 Elm Street in Dallas. See its online collections database at


  1. That sounds fabulous, Melissa. And inspiring.

    1. Thanks, Debs, it is. I particularly like the rather theatrical scenes, hoping to get clues about composition.