Discovering St. Nicholas' finds the truth behind the story

by Jan Gottesman, Telegram & Gazette, December 4, 2015

Among the collection of St. Nicholas/Santa artifacts are these candy molds.
Photo: Jan Gottesman, Telegram & Gazette

How do you create a traveling exhibit that celebrates Bishop/St. Nicholas? Much the same way you start a museum honoring the history of Russian icons.

It starts with a collector.

In the case of Clinton's Museum of Russian Icons, founder Gordon Lankton, a West Boylston resident, began collecting while visiting Russia on business.

As for Carol Myers, she started her St. Nicholas collection by tryng to find the perfect St. Nicholas piece for her home display.

Her collecting culminated in the exhibit, "Discovering St. Nicholas," on view at the Museum of Russian Icons, 203 Union St., through Jan. 23.

"I first became interested in St. Nicholas when our children were small. I wanted them to understand that Santa Claus had been a real person — a real person who served God and gave gifts to help others. We hoped that understanding who Santa really was would help them connect faith and giving. And, just maybe, it would help avoid some seasonal greed," Myers wrote on her website. "I wanted to have a figurine of the good bishop for St. Nicholas Day. But there wasn't one to be found. Years went by with no success (this was before Santa collecting had become popular and different kinds of Santas were hard to come by).

"In the early 1980s, I finally found a corn husk St. Nicholas in a half-price bin. I purchased several — for friends who also celebrated the good saint. He was OK, but not quite what I really wanted. And so the search continued. As time passed, many wonderful Bishops Nicholas have been found —and that is how it all began. I've often said, had the first one been different, he might have also been the last one."

Myers and Jim Rosenthal met on the Internet, discovering that each had a deep interest, "some might say obsession, with St. Nicholas," according to the website. They met in person in 2000.

"Carol's husband, David, innocently asked what was to become of the extensive collections of St. Nicholas artifacts and memorabilia, which each had amassed," according to the website. "A commitment to recovering St. Nicholas in the life of the church and beyond led to the idea for St. Nicholas Center... With Jim's encouragement, Carol developed and is responsible for its content."

The exhibit is booked well in advance so the Clinton museum had to wait a couple of years to host, according to museum Registrar Laura Garrity-Arquitt. The exhibit features artifacts that detail the life of Bishop Nicholas, through the modern images of Santa Claus, without destroying the magic for young children.

From the wood carvings to the candy molds, and the historical depictions of Bishop Nicholas rescuing and reincarnating three children in a pickle barrel, to modern images of Santa; from wood, to stained glass to porcelain, there are pieces in this exhibit that will interest people of all ages.

Telegram & Gazette

With the holiday season underway, it is a nice addition to the Christmas season in the Clinton area.

The museum is open Tuesday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first Thursday of the month, the museum is open until 8 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors (59 and over); and $5 for students with ID and children, 3 to 17.

The museum is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Telegram & Gazette
Telegram & GAzette

From Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Massachusetts, December 4, 2015.

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