Francesco Spagnolo (Curator, The Magnes) and Molly Robinson (Graduate Student, Folklore) discuss their research about a ritual spice box recently displayed by The Magnes, how exhibitions can serve as “archives,” and the meanings of ritual (including the ritual of “collecting”) in a time of social distancing.
Spice boxes are created to hold scented herbs smelled during the Jewish ritual of Havdalah, which marks the separation between the time of the Sabbath and holidays and everyday life. Just like this ritual, museum exhibitions and collecting endeavors require physical proximity. In this conversation, the speakers discuss what they are learning from an 18th-century spice box from Poland, and how their socially-distanced research has presented them with new scenarios.
Zoom in on Wed 5/13 4pm PST.
Register here to attend this free online event.
Francesco Spagnolo is a multidisciplinary scholar focusing on Jewish studies, music, and digital media. At the University of California, Berkeley, he is the Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Music. Among his publications are Italian Jewish Musical Traditions (Rome-Jerusalem, 2001) and The Jewish World: 100 Treasures of Art and Culture (New York, 2014).
Molly Robinson is a first-year student in the Folklore MA Program at UC Berkeley. Her thesis project explores the intersection of craft traditions and climate change in the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina. She holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.
1. Spice box. Krakow, Poland, [18th century] Silver. The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley, Judah L. Magnes Museum purchase, Siegfried S. Strauss collection, 22.214.171.124
2. Molly Robinson (United States) 18th-century filigree spice box. Berkeley, Calif., March 24, 2020 Digital drawing (Procreate, Apple Pencil 1st generation on iPad Pro, 300 dpi). The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley, Gift of the artist, 2020.1