Museum-Inspired Christmas Ornaments

This month's Creativity Theme is CELEBRATION. So, with Christmas fast approaching, I gave myself a challenge for a visit to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts:

  • Find a way to celebrate Christmas inspired by artwork seen in the museum

I figured the most literal way to be inspired would be by visiting the Medieval art galleries, which are filled to the brim with images of the Nativity and Baby Jesus.

As I wandered from baby to baby, I was struck by a pattern. Can you spot it?

Baby Jesus, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Baby Jesus, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Baby Jesus, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Baby Jesus, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

There always seems to be a symbol associated with the Child: be it a bird, a piece of fruit, or coral.

Take this Virgin and Child from mid-13th century Northern Italy:

Baby Jesus, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

According to the 150th Anniversary Guide of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, there is some ambiguity over what fruit the Infant is holding. It could be an apple (the fruit of Original Sin in the Garden of Eden) or a pomegranate (a symbol of the Passion).  

And this Sienese Madonna of Humility from around 1400:

Baby Jesus, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Here, the Child is clutching a goldfinch, a bird that eats thistles and thorns. This alludes to the crown of thorns in the Passion. 

And this Virgin and Child:

Baby Jesus, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Note the coral necklace. Coral, due to its resemblance of blood vessels. has long been associated with Christ's Blood of Redemption.

How bittersweet, seeing images of a newborn and his mother, surrounded by symbols of the child's future grisly death. But, according to the Christian faith, this horrific death brings glorious salvation. Talk about sorrow mingled with joy!

So, to bring it back to the challenge for my visit, how was I going to be inspired to celebrate Christmas based on these artworks?

Simple, I thought. I'll make Christmas tree ornaments based on these symbols of the man of the hour, or, rather, the baby of the hour. I already have bird ornaments, won last year at a Jingle Belles concert in Paris. So, I decided to make a pomegranate and coral to add to my Christmas tree.

I adapted this project to make my ornaments. Here are the results!

Pomegranate Christmas Ornament
Coral Christmas Ornament
Bird Christmas Ornament
Pomegranate Christmas Ornament

This is an installment of this month's creativity theme of CELEBRATION. If you missed it, check out a description of the project here

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Address: 1380 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montréal ∣ MétroStation Peel or Station Guy-Concordia (Green Line) ∣ Opening hoursTuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, major exhibition open until 9pm on Wednesday

NOTE: The MMFA is free this December (except the main temporary exhibition)!