Many objects in The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life document the social interactions among Jewish and host communities throughout Central and South-East Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Many of the communities whose history is represented in the collection vanished in the Holocaust, or were abandoned after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
These objects represent an eclectic inventory of everyday life in the Global Jewish Diaspora. They document professional and business activities, often in connection with holdings in the archives; the presence of Jewish individuals and groups in their host societies at large; the interactions among Jews outside of the boundaries of family relations, synagogue life and communal institutions; and the relationship between Jews in the Diaspora (and their institutions) and the State of Israel (since the rise of the Zionist movement in the 19th century).
An expanding item list (with approximate item counts, when available) includes:
- Calendars: 50
- Cards (postcards and greeting cards): circa 3-4000
- Bookplates: 150
- Professional tools: 250
- Clothing and apparel: 450
- Tourist memorabilia
- Maps: 100
- Depictions of social interactions
- Musical instruments
In-depth descriptions of individual items and item are available in the pages listed below.
Two illustrated Judeo-Persian manuscripts depicting biblical scenes.
85.46.1 and 85.46.2
Gift of Chimon Mayeri and Family
Über die Haupgrundsätze der schönen Künste un Wissenschaften (On the Main Principles of the Fine Arts and Sciences)
Gift of William P. Wreden
75.2, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
The detailed description of Jewish ceremonial customs by Kirchner, a Jewish convert to Christianity, first published in 1717, was re-edited by the Christian Hebraist, Sebastian Jugendres (1685-1765), in 1724.
The holdings of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life include approximately four thousand postcards dating from the last decades of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th century.
Due to their compact size, ease of use, aesthetic immediacy, and ability to quickly connect individuals on a global scale, postcards have had a pivotal role in Jewish life since their invention in 1861.
Dr. Guy Benveniste, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, donated a Hebrew manuscript and four photographs of his family in Salonika (today Thessaloniki, Greece) to The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in 2012.