Vysni Apsa Elder Photo by Roman Vishniac


The Magnes reopens with “Roman Vishniac. In Focus: 1922-2022”

March 17, 2022

Berkeley — On May 1-2, 2022 The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life reopens with Roman Vishniac. In Focus: 1922-2022, an open house, display of Vishniac photographs, and day-long symposium.

The Magnes invites the public to an in-person reception featuring a curated selection of Roman Vishniac photographs on Sunday, May 1, between 3:00 and 5:00pm, and to an in-person and virtual symposium of panels, presentations, and discussions with an illustrious group of international scholars on Monday, May 2, 9:30am to 5:30pm.

Organized in collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Center for Jewish Studies, Roman Vishniac. In Focus will highlight photographs from Jewish communities in interwar Eastern and Central Europe, as well as from Israel at the end of the 1967 war. The symposium will explore these aspects of Vishniac’s work, the relevance of which remains undiminished in light of today’s tragic events in Ukraine. Speakers and topics include Samuel Kassow and Michael Brenner discussing the Jews of the Polish Republic and Weimar Germany with John Efron; Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett will moderate a discussion with Jeffrey Shandler and Vishniac’s grandson Benjamin Schiff, on the history of Vishniac exhibitions in the U.S. and what it was like to work with Vishniac himself; and finally, Aubrey Pomerance and Rebekka Grossmann will speak with Curator Francesco Spagnolo on Vishniac: From Berlin to Jerusalem.

Encompassing the lifetime work of the renowned photographer, the Roman Vishniac Archive at The Magnes includes more than 30,000 images. It is the most valuable collection held by The Magnes and the third most valuable gift to a museum ever received by UC Berkeley. John Efron, the Esther and Jacques Reutlinger Faculty Director of The Magnes Collection and Koret Professor of Jewish History, has said that the acquisition of the Roman Vishniac Archive allows for “a giant step into the world of international scholarship for The Magnes that promises important insights and contributions to our understanding of the 20th century for years to come.”

Throughout this event The Magnes Collection’s galleries will be open for participants to view its current exhibitions An Archive of Archives: Roman Vishniac’s Exhibition History | New York, 1971-72,  Time Capsules. The Magnes: 10 Years at UC Berkeley, and In Real Times. Arthur Szyk: Art & Human Rights (1926-1951), which will soon be traveling to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

Generously funded by the Center for Jewish Studies Annual Diller Lecture and Taube Philanthropies, this event is free and the public is invited to join in person and virtually, adhering to campus COVID-19 guidance

For more information and to register, please visit: magnes.berkeley.edu/vishniac-in-focus.

The Magnes Collection is currently processing the Roman Vishniac Archive. Materials from the archive are not yet available.

About The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life was established in 2010 following the transfer of the Judah L. Magnes Museum to the University of California, Berkeley. Its remarkably diverse archive, library and museum holdings include art, objects, texts, music and historical documents about the Jews in the global diaspora and the American West. As one of the world’s preeminent Jewish collections in a university setting, it provides highly innovative and accessible resources to both researchers and the general public.  

Press Contact: Laura Bratt

About Berkeley’s Center for Jewish Studies

The Center for Jewish Studies is a diverse and interdisciplinary University of California, Berkeley unit whose mission is to gather faculty, students, and visiting academics for research and debate across the wide scholarly landscape of Jewish Studies. The Center is committed to educating students and the larger community about the richness, depth, and diversity of Jewish history and culture.

Press Contact: Jennifer Lipscomb

Keep Up-To-Date