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Scavenger Hunts

Enjoy the following seasonal Scavenger Hunts to develop and exercise your observational skills! Each option references masterworks selected from M&G’s Collection.

Observers of all ages will not only discover exciting details in each painting or object, but also make connections between art and history.

View online OR print and study up close. As always, there is an Answer Key to check your finds!

Click HERE for a Digital Christmas option.


Click HERE for a Digital Easter option.


In-Person Option: The Easter Story in Art: An M&G Scavenger Hunt for Kids (K5-8th grade)

Available February 19–March 30 (Monday-Saturday, 10AM-5PM)

To celebrate Easter, families are invited to begin at the Welcome Center for a campus search of special art objects related to the Easter story. This self-guided, informative activity (45-60 minutes long) is designed to captivate your child’s imagination and expose them to the life and times of Old Master painters. Return to the Welcome Center with your finished worksheet for a free prize!

This M&G activity is FREE!


Object of the Month: December 2021

The Adoration of the Shepherds

Oil on canvas

Jacques Stella

French, 1596–1657

Sometimes it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know.

Jacques Stella travelled to Florence, Italy, and worked for Cosimo II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.  Returning to France, Stella became official painter to Cardinal Richelieu and then Painter to the King (Louis XIII). But these powerful historic personages do not impact his work Adoration of the Shepherds.

Likely inspired by a prototype by Correggio, the first Italian to introduce the supernatural light emanating from Christ and illuminating the nocturnal scene1, Stella has one of the shepherds shield his eyes, foreshadowing Christ’s declaration of Himself as the “light of the world.” But it is not even this master of Italian art that figures most prominently in Stella’s painting.

Rather, it is his lifelong friend and fellow painter Nicolas Poussin whom he met during his 10 years in Rome between his service to the Duke and the Cardinal. Their similar works Adoration of the Shepherds reveal their friendship and knowledge of each other’s art.

Stella’s Adoration contains the obligatory elements in the lower half. But the viewer must read the upper half through the iconography of the lower. Mary, robed in blue, prays; Joseph kneels; and the shepherds wonder. Christ lies in the manger on a white cloth which outlines his extended left hand which, in turn, points directly at a resting lamb. Surprisingly, the baby is not “wrapped in swaddling clothes” (Luke 2:12). He is only diapered. On the far right two figures bear a basket containing two doves, an oddity until one remembers that the temple sacrifice to redeem the firstborn of a poor family was two turtledoves.

In these three ways Stella points to Christ as the Savior of the world: His identification as the Lamb of God, the necessity of a sacrifice for redemption, and the hinted-at burial shroud on which He’s resting.

So far, so good. But in the upper area are both angels and putti. The biblical account clearly states that the angels “had gone away from [the shepherds] into heaven” (Luke 2:15), so these figures show definite artistic license. In the air above his Holy Family, Nicolas Poussin also has putti; his are strewing flowers, a seemingly joyous gesture. However, the flowers are iconographic “flores of martyrum”2; these putti represent the Holy Innocents who by the hand of Herod will be the first martyrs for Christ. Though Stella does not include flowers, clearly his putti also represent the Holy Innocents—given the intimations of Christ’s own martyrdom and the sacrificial doves, classic symbols of innocence.

Stella blends the halves of the work in three significant ways. The two putti gathered around the manger connect the worlds of heavenly bliss and earthly suffering. In addition, the sightline of the front dove-bearer looks heavenward past the basket, connecting the sacrificial doves to the now-redeemed children.  The mountain seen on the right also connects the two worlds. Surely here is Mt. Moriah, where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac, the innocent child of promise, but was stopped by God who provided “himself a lamb” (Genesis 22:8); and where the Lamb of God would sacrifice Himself, the innocent dying for the guilty, to make heaven possible for fallen mankind.

Jacques Stella, like his friend Nicolas Poussin, tells more than the Christmas story: there is none innocent enough for heaven without the redeeming death of the sinless Son of God. It’s not what you know, it’s Who.


Karen Rowe Jones, M&G Board Member



1David Steel Jr., Baroque Paintings from the Bob Jones University Collection, Exhibition catalogue (Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of Art, 1984), 22.

2De Grazia, Diane. “Poussin’s ‘Holy Family on the Steps’ in Context.” Cleveland Studies in the History of Art 4 (1999): 26–63.


Published 2021

Henry Cole: The Origin of Christmas Cards

Even in a digital age, we still love sending and receiving Christmas Cards, but what is the origin of this popular tradition?

Frans Francken, the Younger

The Adoration of the Magi
Frans Francken, the Younger

Below the image, click play to listen.

Object of the Month: December 2013

The Adoration of the Shepherds

Oil on panel

Hans von Aachen

German, 1552-1615

At Christmas, our thoughts naturally turn to gifts. Given a choice, would you choose a large package or a small one? Perhaps it would be wise to remember the adage, “Good things come in small packages.” That sentiment is certainly true of M&G’s Object of the Month, a small painting (9.25” x 7”) that is like a precious jewel in a small gift box.

In addition to the Holy Family and the shepherds, the crowded scene includes women, another child, barn animals, the requisite angels tumbling from heaven, and a huge mastiff. Other innovative additions include bagpipes and a shovel. Far in the background the light of the angelic host can be seen illuminating the hillside. The painting is housed in a tabernacle-type frame with decorative gold tooling and stone insets. Tabernacle frames often held large pieces of art; this version captures the architectural features in miniature.

Aachen lived in Italy from 1574–1588, studying the great Italian masters, and in 1592 he became Court Painter to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II in Prague, a prestigious position that entailed diplomatic as well as artistic responsibilities. Rudolf was the greatest patron of the arts of his time, acquiring works by Dürer, Brueghel, and Veronese as well as works of contemporary northern Mannerist artists such as Aachen, Archimboldo, Spranger, and Savery.

The provenance, or history, of the painting can be traced to English ownership in 1834. English collectors of the nineteenth century amassed great quantities of art, much of it available because of wars and unrest in Europe. This work was part of an 1834 bequest to the Fitzwilliam Museum of Cambridge University; they retained ownership until 1959 when it was sold at Sotheby’s and acquired by the museum.

Anne Short, Former Research Supervisor


Published in 2013