The Museum of the Bible in the US capital Washington DC is set to house a unique Maltese exhibition to capture the spirit of the upcoming Christmas season.
The exhibition, titled “Christmas in Malta: Winners of the Nativity Scene Competition 2023,” features the artistic prowess of three Maltese “presepisti” (Nativity crib makers): Charlie Camilleri, Jesmond Micallef, and Paul Stellini.
The Museum of the Bible, a non-profit organisation, is renowned as the world’s largest Bible museum. Boasting a collection of unparalleled objects, antiquities, and art, the museum spans 430,000 square feet across seven floors. Its mission is to engage and educate a global audience about the profound impact of the Bible, the planet’s most celebrated book.
The collaboration between the Maltese Ministry for National Heritage, Arts, and Local Government and the Museum of the Bible has resulted in the selection of three exceptional cribs to be showcased as part of the museum’s permanent collection.
The exhibition’s inauguration ceremony on November 16 witnessed the convergence of Maltese tradition and American cultural curiosity. The chosen cribs, carefully selected from a pool of over 30 entries in a recent competition, are set to enchant visitors with their artistic brilliance and the rich Maltese heritage of crib making.
One of the featured artists, Charlie Camilleri from Nadur, Gozo, shared his elation about the unique experience and warm reception he received in Washington.
For this special occasion, Charlie elevated his craftsmanship to a new level by presenting an innovative concept – an immersive and interactive crib experience. Visitors can delve into Charlie’s creation by scanning a QR code with their mobile devices, triggering a commentary that guides them through the nativity scene, culminating in the depiction of the birth of the baby in Bethlehem.
Charlie’s connection with cribs spans his entire life, making his recognition at the Museum of the Bible a particularly poignant moment. Renowned in Nadur, Gozo, and beyond for his hand-made religious statues, especially those used during Holy Week, Charlie expressed his gratitude for the unexpected honor bestowed upon him.
Adding a touch of serendipity to this remarkable journey, Charlie received a surprise he never anticipated. Among the audience present at the exhibition inauguration were long-lost family members who had relocated from Malta to New York City. Overwhelmed by the extraordinary chance to witness the event at the Museum of the Bible and driven by their love for Charlie, they made the journey from NYC to DC, stunning him with their unexpected presence. The reunion marked a poignant moment, creating memories that Charlie will cherish forever.
As Malta takes centre stage at the Museum of the Bible, the “Christmas in Malta” exhibition promises to be a celebration of art, tradition, and the universal spirit of Christmas, uniting cultures across the Atlantic in the heart of Washington DC.