News

News about The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. Learn about exhibitions, programs and events, collection highlights, and read Confluence, the Magnes newsletter. 

Zooming In

Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

Each week, curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time.

Fridays at Noon, August 21-December 18, 2020 (except Sept. 18 & Nov. 27) | A Zoom (free or licensed) account is required to attend these free programs.

Our Support for the Black Lives Matter Movement

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.

Shelter-in-place Extended Through June

Update June 4, 2020: The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life remains closed until further notice in compliance with Alameda County’s and the city of Berkeley’s shelter-in-place order. The health and safety of our community is very important to us; our staff are following protocols set by university & municipal authorities to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 through social distancing, telecommuting, etc.

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.

Shelter-in-place Extended Through May

Update April 29, 2020: The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life remains closed until further notice in compliance with Alameda County’s and the City of Berkeley’s shelter in place order. The health and safety of our community is very important to us; our students and staff are following protocols set by UC Berkeley and Alameda County to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 through social distancing, telecommuting, etc.

Extended Closure

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life will be closed until further notice in compliance with Alameda County’s and the City of Berkeley’s shelter in place order. The health and safety of our community is very important to us; our students and staff are following protocols set by UC Berkeley and Alameda County to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 through social distancing, telecommuting, etc. 

Temporary Closure

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Culture will be closed to the public through March 27 as a precautionary measure to ensure public health and safety. This is a difficult decision to make, but the health of our community is very important to us. Our decision also aligns with measures set forth by the University of California Berkeley, as well as many of our peer institutions.

Celebrating the Contemporary Relevance of Arthur Szyk at the Magnes

“Instagram avant la lettre,” said renowned scholar, anthropologist, and  museum curator Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, describing Arthur Szyk’s skillful use of visual imagery as a means of mass communication. Speaking to a capacity crowd at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, Dr. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, a professor at New York University and curator at the POLIN Museum in Warsaw, remarked on the Magnes’curatorial focus on the artist’s critical contributions to the struggle for human rights in the 1940s, and his enduring legacy as a master illustrator and social commentator.

India, Israel and Berkeley

Update 3/9/20: The Commonwealth Club has cancelled this event due to public safety measures regarding the coronavirus. 

*Please note this event is held at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

Our distinguished panel will discuss the ties between Israel, India and Berkeley demonstrated in the Berkeley-based Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life’s beautiful collection of Indian Jewish artifacts. Deputy Consul General Matan Zamir, who was previously stationed in Mumbai, will talk about his experiences. The little known fact, that Jews have lived in India for thousands of years and that presently about 80,000 Indian Jews live in Israel will also be discussed.

Steven Heller | Arthur Szyk Forever Relevant! (Design Observer 12.02.2020)

Steven Heller interviews Dr. Francesco Spagnolo, Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley, about the exhibition In Real Times. Arthur Szyk: Art & Human Rights for the online publication, Design Observer (02.12.2020).

More about the exhibition at bit.ly/inrealtimes


 

Press Release | Exhibition of Political Art by WWII-Era Human Rights Advocate Arthur Szyk Opens at UC Berkeley Magnes Collection (1.21.2020)

Exhibition of Political Art by WWII-Era Human Rights Advocate Arthur Szyk
Opens at UC Berkeley Magnes Collection

Students help to bring artist’s historic calls to action to contemporary audiences 

Berkeley, Calif. (January 21, 2020)—Arthur Szyk’s compelling political cartoons placed Nazi genocide, tyranny and racism on the covers of America’s most popular magazines during World War II. Today, his pioneering examples of graphic storytelling have renewed relevance as a new exhibition and University of California, Berkeley students bring Szyk’s works to contemporary audiences.

In Global Transit: Forced Migration of Jews and other Refugees (1940s-1960s)

May 19-22, 2019

Conference at GHI West and The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, Berkeley 

Conveners: Wolf Gruner (USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, Los Angeles), Simone Lässig (German Historical Institute Washington/GHI West, UC Berkeley), Francesco Spagnolo (The Magnes, UC Berkeley), Swen Steinberg (University of Dresden) 

In cooperation with India Branch Office of the Max Weber Foundation, New Delhi (Indra Sengupta, Razak Khan) and China Branch Office of the Max Weber Foundation, Beijing (Max Jacob Fölster

Victoria Hanna | Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artist at The Magnes (Fall 2017)

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.

Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection at The Magnes

Largest single monetary gift to acquire art in UC Berkeley history brings work of major 20th  century artist to campus

BERKELEY -- The extensive body of work of an artist and illustrator whose subjects spanned some of the most profound events of the 20th century will be available to the world in a public institution for the first time, thanks to a $10.1 million gift from Bay Area-based Taube Philanthropies to The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the University of California, Berkeley. The Taube grant is the largest single monetary gift to acquire art in the history of the campus. 

This gift provides students, scholars, and the public access to the most significant collection of works by Arthur Szyk, a Polish Jewish artist and political caricaturist who ultimately settled in the United States in 1940. Szyk used motifs drawn from the Bible, history, politics, and culture to pair extraordinary craftsmanship with insightful commentary on a diverse range of subjects including Judaism, the founding of the State of Israel, the American War of Independence, World War II, and the Holocaust.