There is a distinct difference between "collecting" and "accumulating", "stockpiling" or, to use a contemporary reality TV theme, "hoarding". The latter are indiscriminate habits reflecting, perhaps, the less-disciplined side of human nature that results in an often higgledy-piggledy compilation. "Collecting", however, is both purposeful and selective and often results in a display that is a thing of beauty and a testimony to human thought and creativity.
On display through the end of December, the current exhibit at the Carnegie Cultural Center, "Collecting Christmas" is indeed a thing a beauty. Comprised of selections from a variety of collectors, the exhibit reflects the joy, tradition and reverence inherent in this holiday season. Nativity scenes contributed by Sue Baron of Charles City represent the Christmas story as interpreted through the eyes of different cultures and artisans. The warm glow of vintage glass ornaments collected by Bill and Renee Croell of New Hampton embody the simple pleasures of the Christmases past. "Manufactured to be collected" items such as Snowbabies, plates by Hummel and Bing and Grondahl, Rowe Pottery Santas and are intermixed with "made collectible by age and love" items such as vintage postcards, a diversity of angels and nostalgic full page illustrations of Santa scenes from early New Hampton Tribunes. Even Scrooge could find something of pleasure and meaning among these fine and carefully chosen artifacts.
The Carnegie Cultural Center is located at 7 N. Water Avenue in New Hampton. It is open noon to six on Thursdays, ten to four on Saturdays, one to four on Sundays or anytime by appointment. Admission is free. For more information, contact the Center at (641) 394-2354 or consult its website www.carnegieculturalcenter.org
He deals in concrete for a living, but Bill Croell and his wife Renee take special pleasure in their "light-as-air" glass ornaments.