Programs History

The Magnes has a fifty-year history of presenting exhibitions that break new ground in Jewish Studies research, build upon the collaboration between curators and UC Berkeley faculty and students, expand Judaica connoisseurship, introduce under-recognized Jewish artists of the 20th century, and take risks with experimental projects by contemporary artists. Many of its exhibitions drawn on selections from its extensive collections, or commissioned works that use the collections as inspiration. 

This page is a growing archive of the exhibition history of the institution since its founding in 1962. The description of each exhibition is augmented by texts and label texts, images, press releases, links to press coverage and artists and contributors websites.

Visitors to the website who have been involved with any of the exhibitions created by the former Judah L. Magnes Museum and wish to contribute additional materials are encouraged to do so, reaching out to our staff through our contact information page.

Yiddish Song in Early Modern Ashkenaz (c. 1500-1750): Sources, Repertoire, Performance | Lecture by Diana Matut

When: 
Mon, Sep 25, 2017 5:30pm to 7:00pm

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.

PopUp Exhibition: Agnieszka Ilwicka on Love in the Ruins: Jewish Life in Lower Silesia 1945-1968 in the voice of the oral history

When: 
Wed, May 03, 2017 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Polish-born Yiddishist and oral historian Agnieszka Ilwicka will talk about her research project "Love in the Ruins: Jewish Life in Lower Silesia 1945-1968." After World War II, Lower Silesia was the largest Jewish settlement in Europe.

PopUp Exhibition | Shana Penn: The Politics of Memory: The New Yad Vashem Exhibition at Auschwitz State Museum

When: 
Wed, Apr 26, 2017 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Shana Penn is executive director of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture and a visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union's Center for Jewish Studies. Her award-winning book, Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland (University of Michigan Press, 2005) examined women’s leadership role in defeating Poland’s communist regime. Presently, Penn is completing a book on the revitalization of Jewish culture in Poland after the fall of Communism.

The 15th Annual City of Berkeley Holocaust Remembrance Day Event

When: 
Sun, Apr 23, 2017 11:30am to 1:00pm
The 15th Annual City of Berkeley Holocaust Remembrance Day Event

Talk l Music l Reception

Honoring Jacob "Yakov" Harari, who will share the riveting story of his family's survival in Poland, along with a musical performance by The Ensemble Bembrillo, featuring Rachel Valfer, Eliyahu Sills, and Dan Cantrell.

This event is free and open to the public. 

PopUp Exhibition: Barbara Goldstein on Jewish Family Values in 19th-century Anti-Semitic Literature

When: 
Wed, Apr 19, 2017 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Barbara Goldstein is a historian of European fascism. She received her PhD from the University of Vienna, Austria with a dissertation devoted to newsreel films created by the Austrian Police between 1929-1938 as part of governmental fascist propaganda campaigns.One of Goldstein’s focuses and special interests is in historic administrative structures and “infamous people” in the early-modern period.

PopUp Exhibition: Ira Fink on El Lissitzky’s Had Gadya: Context and Meaning

When: 
Wed, Apr 05, 2017 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Alongside a distinguished career in college and university planning, Ira Fink has assembled a significant research collection of books on synagogue architecture and Jewish ceremonial art. A graduate of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Dr. Fink’s family collection includes one of the few surviving sets of the eleven lithographs of the famous Had Gadya, the Passover song illustrated in 1919 by the Russian Avant Garde artist, typographer and designer El Lissitzky (1890-1941).

PopUp Exhibition: Eric Drooker on the Art of Political Activism

When: 
Wed, Mar 29, 2017 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Eric Drooker's drawings and posters are a familiar sight in the global street art movement, while his paintings appear frequently on covers of The New Yorker. A Berkeley resident for many years, Drooker was born and raised in New York City, where he began to slap his images on the streets as a teenager. Over time, his reputation as a social critic led to countless editorial illustrations for The Nation, the New York Times, the Progressive, the Village Voice, etc. Drooker won the American Book Award for Flood!

PopUp Exhibition: Ron Feldman on Keeping (Jewish) Time

When: 
Wed, Mar 22, 2017 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Ron Feldman is a Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union, where he earned his PhD in History of Culture and Religion with an emphasis on Judaism. In addition, he earned his MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and has been serving as the Chief Financial Officer of the JCC of the East Bay for the past eight years.

PopUp Exhibition: Adam Naftalin-Kelman on the History of Berkeley Hillel

When: 
Wed, Mar 15, 2017 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman is the Executive Director of Berkeley Hillel. Upon completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Rhode Island, he initially worked in the financial sector as a business consultant. He later pursued a Rabbinic degree from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, and was ordained in 2005. Before serving as the Executive Director of Berkeley Hillel, Naftalin-Kelman was the Director of Hillel at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Book Lecture l Patrizia Guarnieri, The Racial Laws in Fascist Italy: Enzo Bonaventura From Florence to Jerusalem

When: 
Wed, Mar 08, 2017 6:00pm

Patrizia Guarnieri, Professor of Cultural and Social History in the S.A.G.A.S. Department at the University of Florence, Italy,  will give a talk on her book Italian Psychology and Jewish Emigration under Fascism: From Florence to Jerusalem and New York (Palgrave Macmillan US 2016). 

PopUp Exhibition: Rachel Deblinger on the Holocaust in the Age of Digital History

When: 
Wed, Mar 08, 2017 12:00pm to 1:00pm

This week’s PopUp Exhibition falls on March 8th, International Women’s Day. In solidarity with a national protest making March 8th “A Day Without a Woman,” Dr. Rachel Deblinger will turn her presentation into a teach-in about the role of museums and archives as places of resistance, focusing on Holocaust testimony, memory and oral history. 

Drawn from Water: An American Poet, an Ethiopian Family, an Israeli Story

When: 
Thu, Mar 02, 2017 6:30pm to 8:00pm

What do we mean by home? In Drawn From Water, Jewish American writer, Dina Elenbogen explores her thirty-year friendship with Ethiopian Jewish immigrants in Israel as theystruggle in a new country while dealing with her own desire to join them there. Thirty years ago, Operation Moses airlifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, where today they and their descendants form a community over 100,000 strong.

PopUp Exhibition: Alan Elbaum | Between Magic and Medicine: Karaite Manuscripts at The Magnes

When: 
Wed, Mar 01, 2017 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Alan Elbaum is a second-year medical student at the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. While at Berkeley, he is working toward a master's degree in the history of medicine, using manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah. More broadly, Elbaum is interested in the literature and culture of the Jews of Arab lands; historical perspectives on medicine and the social determinants of health; and how insights from the past can guide the way medicine is practiced today.