The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
Welcome to the Magnes!
Exhibitions, Programs, and 15,000 Objects from Around the World
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life was established in 2010 following the transfer of the Judah L. Magnes Museum to the University of California, Berkeley. Its remarkably diverse archive, library and museum holdings include art, objects, texts, music, and historical documents about the Jews in the Global Diaspora and the American West. As one of the world's preeminent Jewish collections in a university setting, it provides highly innovative and accessible resources to both researchers and the general public.
Acquired by The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in 2017 thanks to an unprecedented gift from Taube Philanthropies, the most significant collection of works by Arthur Szyk (Łódź, Poland, 1894 – New Canaan, Connecticut, 1951) is now available to the world in a public institution for the first time as the Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection.
Since its inception in 1962, the former Judah L. Magnes Museum distinguished itself by directing its collecting efforts outside the focus on European Jewish culture and history that was prevalent among American Jewish museums at the time. During the 1970s and 1980s, its founders, Seymour and Rebecca Fromer, actively corralled an informal team of activist collectors and supporters. Together, they were able to bring to Berkeley art and material culture from North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.
The holdings of The Magnes include a set of original and working copies of sketches and storyboard drawings created by Mentor Huebner for the 1971 feature film, Fiddler on the Roof, along with a small selection of set photographs. The film, directed by Norman Jewison, starred Chaim Topol in the title role, and was based on the stories by Sholem Aleichem (born Shalom Rabinovitz, 1859–1916), a founder of modern Yiddish literature.
Jerusalem based artist, Victoria Hanna, is a world-renowned composer, creator, performer, researcher, and teacher of voice and language. The daughter of an ultra-orthodox rabbi, she has been greatly influenced by her childhood environment. In her work, she deploys a variety of vocal techniques in the performance of ancient and modern Hebrew texts, among them Sefer Yetzirah ("Book of Creation"), an early Kabbalistic treatise.
The Ashkenazim (Jews of Central and Eastern Europe) have been singing in Yiddish since the Middle Ages. Their historical song repertoires were very different from today's Yiddish songs. Diana Matut's lecture will explore the world of Renaissance and Baroque Yiddish song, and answer a set of specific research questions, such as: What did the Jews of Kraków, Amsterdam, Prague and Frankfurt sing about? Where did their melodies originate, and can they be reconstructed today? Through literary and musical examples, the lecture will also investigate how Jewish and Christian authorities reacted to the texts and melodies of early Yiddish songs, and give a special emphasis to women's singing activities, and female vocal repertoires.
Created from the early-modern period and into the present, shiviti manuscripts are found in Hebrew prayer books, ritual textiles, and on the walls of synagogues and homes throughout the Jewish diaspora. Wrestling with ways to externalize the presence of God in Jewish life, these documents center upon the graphic representation of God's ineffable four-letter Hebrew name, the Tetragrammaton, and associate it with words and imageries that evoke mystical powers, protective energy, and angels, as well as key places and characters in Biblical and Jewish history.