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