Programs History

The Magnes has a fifty-year history of presenting exhibitions that break new ground in Jewish Studies research, build upon the collaboration between curators and UC Berkeley faculty and students, expand Judaica connoisseurship, introduce under-recognized Jewish artists of the 20th century, and take risks with experimental projects by contemporary artists. Many of its exhibitions drawn on selections from its extensive collections, or commissioned works that use the collections as inspiration. 

This page is a growing archive of the exhibition history of the institution since its founding in 1962. The description of each exhibition is augmented by texts and label texts, images, press releases, links to press coverage and artists and contributors websites.

Visitors to the website who have been involved with any of the exhibitions created by the former Judah L. Magnes Museum and wish to contribute additional materials are encouraged to do so, reaching out to our staff through our contact information page.

Hanukkah and Survival: A "Displaced Persons" Workshop in Germany, 1945

When: 
Fri, Dec 18, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

Bringing the Light!

On the occasion of Hanukkah, we are partnering with the Bay Area's six Jewish Community Centers to bring you the light from the 200 Hanukkah lamps in The Magnes Collection. We invite you to join us in discovering the culturally rich stories of these unique lamps collected from Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India, and the United States.

This week's presentation will uncover objects created in vocational workshops established at the end of WW2 in Germany by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to train Holocaust survivors and assist them in re-entering society.

Register for this free online program here (free or licensed Zoom account required).

Displaying Identity, Protecting Oneself: (What do we learn from) The shape of Hanukkah lamps

When: 
Fri, Dec 11, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

Bringing the Light!

On the occasion of Hanukkah, we are partnering with the Bay Area's six Jewish Community Centers to bring you the light from the 200 Hanukkah lamps in The Magnes Collection. We invite you to join us in discovering the culturally rich stories of these unique lamps collected from Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India, and the United States.

Register for this free online program here (free or licensed Zoom account required).

Birth Certificates in Cloth: Ritual Textiles for the Jewish Life Cycle

When: 
Fri, Dec 04, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

Jewish Resistance: The many contexts of a 1905 painting by Lazar Krestin

When: 
Fri, Nov 20, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

Old Craft - New Media: Gabriella Willenz's Bezalel-inspired Leaning Tower series

When: 
Fri, Nov 13, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

Beyond the Photo Archive: Reconstructing The Concerns of Roman Vishniac (1971) at The Magnes

When: 
Fri, Nov 06, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

A Silent Presence: Female representations in synagogue textiles

When: 
Fri, Oct 30, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

En Route: A Porcelain Set Between Paris, Istanbul and Berkeley

When: 
Fri, Oct 23, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

Pushing Buttons, Old and New: Prayer Shawls, Karaite Jews, and Subversive Rituals (with Artist Nicki Green)

When: 
Fri, Oct 16, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

On Hitler's Balcony: Historian Koppel Pinson in Europe (1945-1946)

When: 
Fri, Oct 09, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

From San Francisco to Paris (and Back): Theresa Herman and the Stein Family

When: 
Fri, Oct 02, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

The Social Medium that Once Was: Postcards in the Global Jewish Diaspora

When: 
Fri, Sep 25, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

Nature in the Song of Songs: An Early-20th century carpet from Jerusalem

When: 
Fri, Sep 11, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

Graduating in Style: Ethnic Diversity at the University of Padua (Italy, 17th century)

When: 
Fri, Sep 04, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

Arthur Szyk and The Right to America

When: 
Fri, Aug 28, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

Hebrew Amulets: Practical Magic (and Health Insurance) in Early-Modern Times

When: 
Fri, Aug 21, 2020 12:00pm to 12:30pm

From our series, "Zooming In: Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life."

Each week, Curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time. 

India, Israel, and Berkeley

When: 
Wed, Aug 05, 2020 5:30pm

Join Magnes Curator, Francesco Spagnolo and panel guests as they discuss ties between Israel, India, and Berkeley by examining Indian-Jewish artifacts from the Magnes Collection.

Deputy Consul General Zamir will talk about his experiences stationed in Mumbai. The history of Jewish culture in India and the present-day Indian-Jewish culture in Israel will also be discussed.

Francesco Spagnolo on Threads of Jewish Life

When: 
Fri, May 22, 2020 12:30pm to 1:15pm

Take a lunch break & join Francesco Spagnolo, Curator of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, Berkeley, for a presentation on a current exhibition of The Magnes, presented at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco: Threads of Jewish Life: Ritual and Other Textiles from the San Francisco Bay Area

In this virtual program, Spagnolo will explore early Jewish life in San Francisco through the textiles and objects on view in the exhibition, including the mysterious origins of the exhibition's extraordinary Torah ark.

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

When: 
Wed, May 13, 2020 4:00pm to 5:00pm

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. 

"Zooming In": Teaching Online with the Magnes Exhibition "In Real Times"

When: 
Wed, Apr 15, 2020 5:00pm to 6:30pm
When, at the beginning of the semester, Prof. Francesco Spagnolo, Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, worked with Prof. Isabel Richter, DAAD Professor of History to plan a class visit to The Magnes for her course on Politics and Culture in 20th-Century Germany: Fascism and Propaganda, social distancing requirements were not a consideration. However, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic and governmental shelter-in-place orders, an in-class visit was no longer possible.