The Magnes Holdings

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The holdings of The Magnes Collection are catalogued into three distinct areas, which together constitute the single collection: the Archives, the Library, and the Museum. This unique interdisciplinary understanding of the collection facilitates access to scholars by integrating the different descriptive standards applied to each area and thus offering a wide-angled perspective on Jewish history and culture.


The Museum holdings of The Magnes encompass two main areas: Jewish Art and Jewish Life. The Jewish Art collection includes painting and sculpture, photography, works on paper and artist books, as well as digital and mixed media. The Jewish Life collection includes thousands of objects representing personal and family rituals, synagogue and communal life, and the social interactions among Jewish and host communities in the Global Jewish Diaspora throughout history.

Refugee Jews from Kurdistan, Kurdish women (Tehran, Iran, 1950)

Jewish Art

The Jewish Art holdings of the Magnes include representational and abstract works of art primarily from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The holdings include an extensive collection of works by Arthur Szyk and Roman Vishniac.

Manuscript [] : Mizrach (Southern Germany, 18th cent.)

Jewish Life

The Magnes Collection is a unique source of primary evidence about Jewish life in the Global Diaspora. Objects included here serve as testaments to the intersection of the material and spiritual dimensions of the Jewish experience.


The archival holdings have been a central feature of the collecting interests of the Magnes since its inception. The intention is to provide a wide-ranging approach to the Jewish experience in its many manifestations. The archival collections complement museum and library holdings and include manuscripts, photographs, personal papers, and institutional and professional records according to two collecting areas: The Global Jewish Diaspora collections and The Western Jewish Americana collections.

Refugee Jews from Kurdistan, Kurdish women (Tehran, Iran, 1950)

Global Jewish Diaspora Archives

Over the decades, the Magnes acquired a host of small archival collections documenting the activities of individuals, families and organizations in the Global Jewish Diaspora, with a focus on Europe and the United States.

Refugee Jews from Kurdistan, Kurdish women (Tehran, Iran, 1950)

Western Jewish Americana Archives

The holdings of the Western Jewish Americana Archives are unique, as they combine two fields of research that have often been investigated in separate ways: the history of the American Jewish experience and the history of California and the American West.


The library holdings of The Magnes include rare and illustrated books from the global Jewish diaspora, periodicals, reference and original materials about Jewish history in the American West, as well as sound recordings, music books and manuscripts.

Refugee Jews from Kurdistan, Kurdish women (Tehran, Iran, 1950)

Global Jewish Diaspora Library

The Global Jewish Diaspora library holdings of The Magnes were created through collecting campaigns in India, North Africa and Central Europe, as well as through donations by Bay Area collectors.

jewish music fest poster

Western Jewish Americana Library

The Western Jewish Americana Library holdings at The Magnes constitute the world's largest collection of reference and research tools about the Jewish experience in the American West.

Refugee Jews from Kurdistan, Kurdish women (Tehran, Iran, 1950)


The music holdings of The Magnes are an important repository of Jewish musical memory in the Western United States. All aspects of Jewish music are represented: ethnographic evidence, cantorial music, early Zionist songs, and popular American Jewish hits.


Reference Collection

The Reference Collection is housed in the Florence Helzel Collection Study, and includes standard reference works, catalogs raisonné, monographs, and other materials supporting study and research of the larger holdings of The Magnes.

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