OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — Much like the Bethlehem stable depicted in creches around the world, the basement of the Algoma Boulevard United Methodist Church is an unassuming place but holds a Christmas wonder.
Inside is a vast display of scenes depicting the birth of Christ, made of everything from banana fiber to Faberge.
It's one of the largest personal collections of nativity scenes in the world, containing thousands of sets from dozens of countries all over the globe, and it was all put together by one woman, Mildred Turner.
PHOTOS: A GLIMPSE AT AN IMPRESSIVE NATIVITY COLLECTION IN OSHKOSH
Collection docent Craig Blumer says Turner began the collection as a way to help her through serious health problems and the death of her mother.
“She just decided, ‘I am not going to be sad and sit around during Christmas,’ and so decided to take on this project,” said Blumer.
Turner then began collecting nativities from all over the world but eventually donated them to the church when the collection became too difficult for her to manage.
Today, her entire collection is still housed inside Algoma Boulevard United Methodist Church and is open for the public to see.
United Methodist Pastor Cathy Weigand says the wide variety of cultures represented is what makes the collection so special.
“It’s a beautiful representation of such a diverse people celebrating the story of Christmas and remembering the joy of the season,” she said.
Although Turner died in 2007, Blumer says Turner's legacy lives on through her collection, and her work still amazes to this day.
“Mildred is remembered, obviously because of this collection," Blumer said. "Every time I walk down here, there’s a different feature that I hadn’t seen before. It’s kind of amazing to be a part of this.”