Scent & Sensibility: Researching and Collecting around a Ritual Spice Box

Wed, May 13, 2020 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Zoom Event

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.


This program is presented by UC Berkeley College of Letters & Science, Division of Arts & Humanities as part of the Arts & Ideas Live Online! series.