The Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP) presents UC Berkeley undergraduate students with the unique opportunity to work closely with the curatorial staff of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, learning and developing invaluable research skills.
Undergraduate Research Apprentices have the opportunity to work hands-on with primary sources from the global Jewish Diaspora, and to conduct in-house and on-line research about the holdings of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life — including rare objects, documents, photographs, books, manuscripts, and artwork from the 16th century to our days. URAP students will learn museum best practices for collection assessment and cataloging, assisting with inventorying, digitizing, re-housing, researching, fact-checking existing information in museum databases. The apprenticeship offers a unique chance to learn about collection research, exhibition preparation, and print and online publication work, operating in a collaborative environment, interfacing with scholars and museum professionals, and exploring and adopting cutting-edge digital humanities tools and perspectives.
In the Spring of 2013, the curatorial unit of The Magnes launched a publication project entitled Jewish Worlds: 100 Objects from The Magnes Collection, to be published by Skirà-Rizzoli in 2014, as well as a new research project, Saved by The Bay, conducted in partnership with the UC Berkeley Department of History, to document the impact of intellectual migration from Fascist Europe to UC Berkeley in the mid-20th century.
- The book constitutes the first comprehensive volume on one of the largest Jewish collections in the world, highlighting one hundred objects from The Magnes Collection that can be pinpointed to specific locations across the Diaspora, down to the street address of a scene depicted in a painting. Detailed images, accompanied by brief essays, offer an unconventional look at the cultures of the Jews. The accompanying essays situate the objects in their geographical and historical context, weaving a rich tapestry of individual lives, geopolitical networks, and micro-histories.
- The research project, which involved in-depth research in the University Archives of The Bancroft Library and other UC Berkeley library and archives, aimed at tracing materials that informed the production of a new exhibition, Saved by The Bay, on view at The Magnes from January through December of 2014. Professors Thomas Laqueur and Martin Jay were the faculty advisors for this project.
In conjunction with these projects, The Magnes launched its Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, under the supervision of Dr. Francesco Spagnolo, Curator of The Magnes Collection, and the current Magnes Graduate Fellow.
By Spring of 2014, URAP at The Magnes had recruted eight UC Berkeley undergraduates. By 2020, almost 50 UC Berkeley students have been involved in this program, which continued also during the COVID-19 pandemic by moving entirely in the digital realm. Select profiles of students who have participated in the program over the years are listed on a dedicated page on this website.
Project description: Research apprentices conduct in-house and on-line research about the museum, archive and library holdings of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life; assist with research on collection items, catalog and accession record; fact-check existing information in museum catalogs, books, and online resources; and proof-read exhibition labels and web pages. Apprentices have the opportunity to work "hands-on" with primary sources from the global Jewish Diaspora, including rare objects, documents, photographs, books, manuscripts, and art works from the 16th century to our days . The apprenticeship offers a unique chance to learn about collection research, exhibition preparation, and print and online publication work, operating in a collaborative environment and with cutting-edge digital humanities tools and perspectives.
Mentorship: All research projects are conceived and directed by Prof. Francesco Spagnolo, Curator of The Magnes Collection, with assistance provided by the Magnes professional staff.
Qualifications: We seek students with good collaborative and communication skills, and with strong interest and research skills in European, Near Eastern and American history, art history, anthropology, and, of course, Jewish studies. We welcome students with language skills that may include Hebrew, German, Arabic and Malayalam. Students who are familiar with digital tools (digitization, image processing, HTML, QR coding, WordPress and Drupal) are also welcome to apply.
Weekly hours: 6-9 hrs.
How to apply: Undergraduate Students at UC Berkeley who wish to apply, should visit the URAP web page of The Magnes and follow the links listed at the bottom of the page.