A very unusual collection of religious-based artifacts/playful art is in need of a permanent home. Over the last 35 years, Father Roy Herberger has been collecting nativity sets from all over the world. Currently, his collection consists of 650 sets from 58 countries. Unfortunately, the collection has become too unwieldy due to its massive size, but rather than break up the collection, Father Roy is hoping that someone in Buffalo has space to accommodated it.
Father Roy says that he is willing to donate his prized collection of nativity sets to someone (an individual, business, or organization) that is willing to set it up permanently. He says that each year, the collection is put away, and then set back up for the holidays – an exhausting process that results in a Joseph losing an arm or a shepherd losing a head.
As for the sets themselves, Father Roy states that they range from the sublime to the ridiculous. “One is made from Coco-Cola memorabilia, another from auto parts, and there’s even one made from tiny hand-painted grains of rice. The Bishop said that he particularly liked the hipster nativity scene, where the gifts are tiny Amazon packages being delivered by the three wisemen on Segways, while Mary and Joseph pose for a selfie.”
When I asked Father Roy how he decided to collect nativity sets, he responded, “I was in Baltimore for a religious ed convention. I was looking at a display with clothing and jewelry, when I saw a hand carved set made of ebony, from Africa. I thought to myself, what would other nativity sets look like from other countries? That’s how it all began. I’m still collecting to this day – there’s even a non-profit component under the name St. Francis Nativity Museum.”
Father Roy mentioned that there are a few other prerequisites that he would need in order to hand off the collection, aside from having upwards of 2000 square feet available to display the sets. The space would have to be wheelchair accessible. There would also have to be accessibility for bus tours that come to visit the collection, which could be seasonally. He also suggested that it would be great if there was some sort of interactive arts and crafts component, as he has been in touch with local schools that have art programs. “The collection is viewed from an art and cultural standpoint by most that observe it,” says Father Roy. “Students can learn from it. It’s a great way to showcase diversity – it’s fascinating to see so many cultures represented in the collection. I hope that someone has some room to publicly store all of the sets, so that we can keep it altogether in Buffalo.”
If anyone has a solid lead on a space that they would like to share with Father Roy, he can be reached at 716-852-2076, as well as email@example.com.