Some of the exhibits son on show are seldom seen in public

An exhibition on the history of Nativity Scenes in Majorca opens at the Museum of Majorca this evening. The main exhibit is one of the oldest Nativity Scenes in Europe, that of the Convent de Jesús friary, with figures dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. This friary, which stood outside the city walls, was disentailed and nowadays, the Nativity Scene is usually kept in the La Sang church at the General Hospital. The Museum is also exhibiting paintings and statues derived from the Nativity Scene and panels with explanations about its origins, as well as plans and photographs. Complementing the exhibition is the Nativity Scene from the convent of Santa Elisabet, which, according to museum curator Joana Maria Palou, has not been shown in public for many years. It was made in 1820 and is attributed to Adrià Ferran. It follows the model of that of the Convent de Jesús. This friary dedicated a chapel to the Nativity in 1500. The Franciscans set up a cave behind the altar to act as an altarpiece, and in it they placed statues of the Holy Family. Above it there were sheep, with shepherds and their dogs, and, in the foreground, there was a group of angels, depicted as musicians. This type of mixed altarpiece, involving landscape, architecture and religious theatre, then became fashionable in Italy and could still be seen at the start of the 20th century in Naples. Experts have attributed the figures of Majorca and a similar Nativity Scene in the church of Sant Giovanni in Carbonara, Italy, to the artists Pietro and Giovanni Alamanno. This exhibition tracing the start of the Nativity Scene tradition in Majorca is just one of a series of events organised by the Museum for the Christmas period. They will include a series of talks on Christmas traditions, in Catalan, organised in collaboration with the Llorenç Villalonga museum of Binissalem. The Museum of Majorca is in Calle de la Portella, close to the Cathedral. It is open from 10am to 2pm and 5 to 7pm on weekdays, and 10am to 2pm on Sundays. There is an admission charge of 1.80 euros, which is waived for Spaniards and residents on presentation of residency permits. The Museum also has fine exhibitions illustrating the history of the island from prehistoric times.

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