Gina Zanella devoted 25 years of her life to the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History and the society behind it.
Besides being a member of the Carpinteria Valley Historical Society, she served as a trustee, co-chair of the docent committee and a general volunteer.
The Santa Barbara native’s children knew how much the historical society and its museum meant to her. So after she died in 2020 at age 88, they decided to donate hundreds of objects from her Carpinteria Valley home to the museum.
Among them were some Christmas treasures.
“There was a closet full of nativity scenes she would bring out every Christmas,” David Griggs, the museum’s director and curator, told the News-Press this week.
The 30 or so nativity scenes are from around the world and depict the Christmas story from the perspective of various cultures.
And now you have a chance to buy them, for $5 to $50, at the Holiday Museum Marketplace.
It’s set for 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the museum, 956 Maple Ave., Carpinteria.
In addition to the Nativity scenes, the market offers bargains on antiques, handcrafted gifts and vintage goods from more than 60 vendors, Mr. Griggs said.
But certainly the Nativity sets will get people’s attention.
“I think local people, artisans from around the world, have interpreted the classic story in their own way with their own materials at hand,” Mr. Griggs said. “I think the variety from different cultures all telling the story resonates with people.”
He said favorites include a Nativity scene with a black baby Jesus and black supporting figures. He added he believes the set is from a Caribbean nation.
“It’s striking,” he said.
Mr. Griggs emailed a half-dozen or so photos of the Nativity scenes to the News-Press, and the artistic styles varied from classical and ornate to simple but expressive.
They also vary in size, Mr. Griggs said. “They go from tea cup size to 12-inch figures.”
He explained Mrs. Zanella’s children, Mark and Ann, decided to donate her objects to the museum rather than have an estate sale.
“She had a huge collection of Asian art and figurines,” Mr. Griggs said.
He added that the children told him, “You can take anything you’d like to the museum.”
Mr. Griggs ended up taking four truckloads.
“Most of it has been sold,” he said, referring to the museum’s previous marketplaces, which have taken place monthly this year since June. He decided to save the Nativity scenes for this Saturday’s sale.
And Mr. Griggs noted the marketplace has a great vibe.
“It’s great treasure hunting. There’s something for everybody,” he said. “We get people who come every month from Woodland Hills and Canyon Country.”