Republic of Malta & Museum of the Bible Launch Nativity Exhibition Contest

Published: Aug 12, 2020

Posted In: Press Releases

WASHINGTON — In partnership with the Ministry for National Heritage, Arts and Local Government of the Republic of Malta, Museum of the Bible will host an exhibition contest of handcrafted Nativities from crib-artists of the island nation of Malta and the island of Gozo.

Selected traditional and biblical Nativities will be displayed at the Museum in Washington, D.C., from November 15, 2020, through March 2021. The first-place Nativity will become part of Museum of the Bible's collection.

“The earliest known Maltese crib was built at the Dominican Friars Church in Rabat, Malta, in 1617. It didn’t take long for the tradition to take root, although the building of cribs in Malta mainly flourished during the 19th and first part of the 20th centuries,” said Ambassador Keith Azzopardi.

For centuries, the people of Malta have celebrated Christmas by crafting cribs. These hand-made scenes set the Nativity figures in elaborate landscapes that reflect traditional life in the island nation. At Christmastime, cribs are displayed in homes, outdoors, and in churches.

“We are excited to bring Malta's unique Christmas tradition of crafting and displaying these beautiful Nativity cribs to Washington,” said Jeffrey Kloha, Ph.D., chief curatorial officer for Museum of the Bible. “Special thanks to His Excellency, Ambassador Azzopardi, for helping to bring these to Museum of the Bible. Visitors will enjoy seeing how the Christmas story is told through this rich tradition.”

The exhibition will showcase ten traditional Maltese or Gozitan biblical nativity scenes, which will be selected through a competition sponsored by Malta’s Ministry for the National Heritage. The winning artists will travel to Washington for the opening of the exhibition and guests will have the opportunity to interact with them at the museum. Selected crib-artist entries will continue to be showcased in exhibitions in Malta and globally through 2021.

“Through this exhibition, we are providing the opportunity for Maltese and Gozitan artists, works, and craftsmanship to be recognized for their intrinsic cultural and religious value around the world. The exhibition is certain to generate interest in religious tourism and Maltese expression of Roman Catholic worship traditions,” said José Herrera, Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government of Malta.

The Maltese Directorate of Culture must receive all Maltese and Gozitan crib-artist entries by Tuesday, September 15. View full entry details here, and contact Museum of the Bible for more information on the Nativity exhibition and Christmastime at the Museum.


Museum of the Bible is an innovative, global, educational institution whose purpose is to invite all people to engage with the transformative power of the Bible.

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