Welcome to the Magnes!

June 8, 2020

We at the Magnes acknowledge the violence suffered by African Americans, including the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, as well as the cumulative impact of a centuries-long history of racial discrimination. Like many in the Jewish and UC Berkeley communities, we express solidarity with African Americans and join calls to stop the killings and address the deep-seated racism and economic disparities that scar American life.

Please follow this link for a list of available resources and statements from UC Berkeley’s campus leaders.


 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 Its remarkably diverse archive, library and museum holdings include art, objects, texts, music, and historical documents about the Jews in the Global Diaspora and the American West.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. The holdings of The Magnes continue to grow. In 2017, The Magnes established the Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection, and in 2018 received the gift of the Roman Vishniac Archive

Gazeta Features Exhibitions & Museums: In Real Times | Arthur Szyk at the Magnes

Magnes Curator Francesco Spagnolo provides a detailed look at our 2020 exhibition, In Real Times. Arthur Szyk: Art & Human Rights for the spring issue of Gazeta, a quarterly publication of the American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies and Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture.

Francesco Spagnolo on Threads of Jewish Life

When: 
Fri, May 22, 2020 12:30pm to 1:15pm

Take a lunch break & join Francesco Spagnolo, Curator of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, Berkeley, for a presentation on a current exhibition of The Magnes, presented at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco: Threads of Jewish Life: Ritual and Other Textiles from the San Francisco Bay Area

In this virtual program, Spagnolo will explore early Jewish life in San Francisco through the textiles and objects on view in the exhibition, including the mysterious origins of the exhibition's extraordinary Torah ark.

#MuseumFromHome with Animal Crossing

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art & Life closed our gallery doors on March 17, 2020 due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. As museums around the world simultaneously closed, the social media hashtag #museumfromhome was created to share virtual museum experiences. In the meantime, the Nintendo Switch video game console released Animal Crossing: New Horizons on March 20. The premise of the game transports players to a nearly deserted island where they build houses, find resources, and interact with a small number of island dwellers. The island also contains a museum of natural history, paleontology, and fine arts.

"Zooming In": Teaching Online with the Magnes Exhibition "In Real Times"

When: 
Wed, Apr 15, 2020 5:00pm to 6:30pm
When, at the beginning of the semester, Prof. Francesco Spagnolo, Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, worked with Prof. Isabel Richter, DAAD Professor of History to plan a class visit to The Magnes for her course on Politics and Culture in 20th-Century Germany: Fascism and Propaganda, social distancing requirements were not a consideration. However, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic and governmental shelter-in-place orders, an in-class visit was no longer possible. 

In Real Times. Arthur Szyk: Art & Human Rights (1926-1951)

On View: 
Jan 28, 2020 to May 29, 2020
Sep 1, 2020 to Dec 18, 2020

Born into a middle-class Polish Jewish family, Arthur Szyk (Łódź, Poland, 1894 – New Canaan, Connecticut, 1951) lived a life framed by two world wars, the collapse of European democracies, and the rise of totalitarianism. A refugee, he ultimately settled in the United States in 1940. Throughout his work as a miniature artist and political caricaturist, he used motifs drawn from religion, history, politics, and culture, pairing extraordinary craftsmanship with searing commentary on a diverse range of subjects including Judaism, the American Revolution, the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the founding of the State of Israel. 

An Archive of Archives: Roman Vishniac's Exhibition History | New York, 1971-72

On View: 
Jan 28, 2020 to May 29, 2020
Sep 1, 2020 to Dec 18, 2020

The Magnes acquired the Roman Vishniac Archive in 2018, thanks to an unprecedented gift by the late Mara Vishniac Kohn (1926-2018). The collection is comprised of thousands of original prints, negatives, and archival materials documenting the long international career of Roman Vishniac (1897-1990), a Russian-born modernist photographer most notable for documenting Eastern-European Jewish life in the years immediately preceding the Holocaust. Vishniac’s work has been celebrated in exhibitions and publications since the 1940s. The gift represents one of the most important acquisitions made by The Magnes since its founding in 1962, and one of inestimable value to UC Berkeley for insight and research into 20th-century East European Jewry, and beyond.

As this important collection is being painstakingly processed and documented, The Magnes is beginning to share new findings with the public. An archive of this magnitude is bound to reveal many discoveries, opening up new perspectives on the life and work of a globally recognized photographer, and allowing us to revisit some of the salient moments in his career. A veritable “archive of archives,” the collection also contains among its treasures substantial documentation of some of Vishniac’s early exhibitions.

Souvenirs from Utopia: The Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem (1906-1932)

On View: 
Aug 27, 2019 to Dec 13, 2019
Jan 21, 2020 to May 29, 2020
Sep 1, 2020 to Dec 18, 2020

At the turn of the 20th century, under Ottoman rule, Jerusalem was rapidly developing into a center of Jewish cultural activities. The protagonists of this scene were, for the most part, recent East-European Jewish immigrants. They had been inspired to move to Palestine by the emerging Zionist movement, and were eager to shake off the oppressive conditions they had experienced under the Russian Empire. 

In Real Times. Arthur Szyk: Art & Human Rights (1926-1951)

On View: 
Jan 28, 2020 to May 29, 2020
Sep 1, 2020 to Dec 18, 2020

Born into a middle-class Polish Jewish family, Arthur Szyk (Łódź, Poland, 1894 – New Canaan, Connecticut, 1951) lived a life framed by two world wars, the collapse of European democracies, and the rise of totalitarianism. A refugee, he ultimately settled in the United States in 1940. Throughout his work as a miniature artist and political caricaturist, he used motifs drawn from religion, history, politics, and culture, pairing extraordinary craftsmanship with searing commentary on a diverse range of subjects including Judaism, the American Revolution, the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the founding of the State of Israel. 

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