On Tuesday, March 7th, University of California, Berkeley and the Division of Arts and Humanities hosted a special reception celebrating The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life’s new Executive Director, Hannah Weisman, thanking the many supporters who made the position possible.
“Appointing an executive director is an important milestone for The Magnes… the largest Judaica collection on the west coast and a vital resource for anyone interested in the extraordinarily vibrant and varied Jewish artistic and intellectual tradition.” stated UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ as she kicked off the short program welcoming Weisman to the campus community and sharing a conversation with her.
As many of the museum’s biggest supporters and the Berkeley Jewish community mingled together at University House with Chancellor Christ, Weisman, and Sara Guyer, Dean of Arts and Humanities, they had an opportunity to learn more about the new Executive Director, the experience she brings to The Magnes, and her vision for its future.
In response to Chancellor Christ’s question about the role museums have in fostering a wide range of curiosity and inquiry, Weisman said “Museums are, at their best, really magical learning environments. They tap into different ways that people learn and they encompass a lot of choice. These elements, in connection with the deep scholarship that underpins museum exhibitions and collections, gives people an opportunity to be open minded, to explore ideas that might be new to them, and to participate in conversation with others around those new ideas.”
“Appointing an executive director is an important milestone for The Magnes… the largest Judaica collection on the west coast and a vital resource for anyone interested in the extraordinarily vibrant and varied Jewish artistic and intellectual tradition.”Chancellor Carol Christ, University of California, Berkeley
As Dean Guyer celebrated the advancement of Jewish studies at UC Berkeley and discussed the need “to bring added visibility to the richness and expansiveness of Jewish culture as it is exhibited in The Magnes Collection.” She added, “It’s important for us to educate people on campus, in the Bay Area, and beyond about the Jewish experience. Hannah is uniquely qualified to do this.”
With decades of experience in museum education and administration, Weisman has the ability to draw out complex and rich stories from The Magnes’s holdings for both the Berkeley campus and the world. Her appointment is the result of a landmark partnership between Taube Philanthropies, the Magnes Museum Foundation, and UC Berkeley.
“It all starts with that magnificent collection. It is wonderfully diverse and it is wide ranging both in terms of material and time period,” Weisman stated when asked about drawing new audiences to The Magnes. “I think building collections based programming is where we want to continue to grow.”