Art and artifacts from North Africa, India, and the former Ottoman Empire have formed a significant part of the Magnes’s encyclopedic collection and are now featured in the new exhibition Journeys East: Patterns of Collecting opening November 20, 2006.
Magnes founders sought out objects for collections with a passion driven by historic necessity. After World War II and the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, centuries-old Jewish communities in North Africa, India and the former Ottoman Empire were rapidly disappearing. The goal of the museum’s founders – and their enduring legacy – was not simply to collect isolated examples of beautiful ceremonial art, but rather to paint a complete picture of communal life through its material culture. The voices of the museum founders are captured on video and made available in the galleries with thanks to a grant from the Museum Loan Network as part of the Magnes’s Collections Access Project.
Journeys East: Patterns of Collecting is a result of the Collection Access Project which utilizes state of the art computer technology to create a museum without walls. The Collection Access Project provides a unique opportunity to review the entire collection and, in this process, to re-consider traditional categories of fine and folk art. Seen from a fresh perspective, many seemingly humble objects from these colorful Eastern communities display an irresistible charm as they evoke and celebrate the worlds that created them. In the near future the Collection Access Project catalog will allow visitors and scholars to view the entire collection, while selected objects are displayed in thought-provoking exhibition contexts.
About the Judah L. Magnes Museum
Founded in 1962, the Magnes is a museum of art and history focused on the Jewish experience. The Museum demonstrates a commitment to both tradition and experimentation through wide-ranging collections, original exhibitions, provocative programs, and research facilities, including the largest history center relating to the Jews in the American West. The Magnes is a place of discovery for Jews and the community at large, and contributes to international scholarship and culture.
The Judah L. Magnes Museum is located at 2911 Russell Street in Berkeley. Hours are Sunday through Wednesday 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Suggested museum admission is $6 for adults and $4 for students and seniors. Scholars and researchers are invited to visit the Western Jewish History Center by appointment.