Exhibitions

The exhibitions of The Magnes highlight the treasures of one of the world’s preeminent Jewish museum collections. By combining museum practice, research, and instruction, they present to the public the results of engaging collaborative projects led by UC Berkeley faculty, students, visiting scholars, artists, and curators. Each exhibition is accompanied by programs connecting academic life and the public interest.

Galleries are open from Tuesday through Friday, 11am-4pm, and on evenings and weekends during public events (see events calendar for details). Entrance is free.

The annual exhibition schedule follows UC Berkeley's Academic Calendar, with openings in the Fall and Spring semesters of each year. The 2020 spring exhibitions run from Jan 28, 2020 to May 29, 2020.


Please note that our galleries are closed during Winter and Summer Breaks. Check our Calendar for a detailed schedule. During gallery closure times, The Magnes remains open for research on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday each week. For further information about collection access, consult the Collection Services Page of this website.

An Archive of Archives: Roman Vishniac's Exhibition History | New York, 1971-72

On View: 
Jan 28, 2020 to May 29, 2020
Sep 1, 2020 to Dec 18, 2020

The Magnes acquired the Roman Vishniac Archive in 2018, thanks to an unprecedented gift by the late Mara Vishniac Kohn (1926-2018). The collection is comprised of thousands of original prints, negatives, and archival materials documenting the long international career of Roman Vishniac (1897-1990), a Russian-born modernist photographer most notable for documenting Eastern-European Jewish life in the years immediately preceding the Holocaust. Vishniac’s work has been celebrated in exhibitions and publications since the 1940s. The gift represents one of the most important acquisitions made by The Magnes since its founding in 1962, and one of inestimable value to UC Berkeley for insight and research into 20th-century East European Jewry, and beyond.

As this important collection is being painstakingly processed and documented, The Magnes is beginning to share new findings with the public. An archive of this magnitude is bound to reveal many discoveries, opening up new perspectives on the life and work of a globally recognized photographer, and allowing us to revisit some of the salient moments in his career. A veritable “archive of archives,” the collection also contains among its treasures substantial documentation of some of Vishniac’s early exhibitions.

In Real Times. Arthur Szyk: Art & Human Rights (1926-1951)

On View: 
Jan 28, 2020 to May 29, 2020
Sep 1, 2020 to Dec 18, 2020

Born into a middle-class Polish Jewish family, Arthur Szyk (Łódź, Poland, 1894 – New Canaan, Connecticut, 1951) lived a life framed by two world wars, the collapse of European democracies, and the rise of totalitarianism. A refugee, he ultimately settled in the United States in 1940. Throughout his work as a miniature artist and political caricaturist, he used motifs drawn from religion, history, politics, and culture, pairing extraordinary craftsmanship with searing commentary on a diverse range of subjects including Judaism, the American Revolution, the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the founding of the State of Israel. 

Souvenirs from Utopia: The Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem (1906-1932)

On View: 
Aug 27, 2019 to Dec 13, 2019
Jan 21, 2020 to May 29, 2020
Sep 1, 2020 to Dec 18, 2020

At the turn of the 20th century, under Ottoman rule, Jerusalem was rapidly developing into a center of Jewish cultural activities. The protagonists of this scene were, for the most part, recent East-European Jewish immigrants. They had been inspired to move to Palestine by the emerging Zionist movement, and were eager to shake off the oppressive conditions they had experienced under the Russian Empire. 

Souvenirs from Utopia: The Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem (1906-1932)

On View: 
Aug 27, 2019 to Dec 13, 2019
Jan 21, 2020 to May 29, 2020
Sep 1, 2020 to Dec 18, 2020

At the turn of the 20th century, under Ottoman rule, Jerusalem was rapidly developing into a center of Jewish cultural activities. The protagonists of this scene were, for the most part, recent East-European Jewish immigrants. They had been inspired to move to Palestine by the emerging Zionist movement, and were eager to shake off the oppressive conditions they had experienced under the Russian Empire. 

a tsigele | one little goat: El Lissitzky’s Chad Gadyo at 100 (1919-2019)

On View: 
Aug 27, 2019 to Dec 13, 2019

One hundred years since the publication of Chad Gadyo, an illustrated version of the famed Passover song by the Russian Jewish artist El Lissitzky (Lazar Markovich Lissitzky, 1890-1941), a rare copy of this work has now found its way to The Magnes, thanks to a gift by Ira Fink and Penni Hudis of Berkeley.

The Worlds of Arthur Szyk | The Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection

On View: 
Aug 28, 2018 to Jun 28, 2019

Acquired by The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in 2017 thanks to an unprecedented gift from Taube Philanthropies, the most significant collection of works by Arthur Szyk (Łódź, Poland, 1894 – New Canaan, Connecticut, 1951) is now available to the world in a public institution for the first time as the Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection.

Pièces de Résistance: Echoes of Judaea Capta From Ancient Coins to Modern Art

On View: 
Aug 28, 2018 to Jun 28, 2019

Notions of resistance, alongside fears and realities of oppression, resound throughout Jewish history. As a minority, Jews express their political aspirations, ideals of heroism, and yearnings of retaliation and redemption in their rituals, art, and everyday life.

Centering on coins in The Magnes Collection, this exhibition explores how the Jewish revolts against Hellenism and the Roman occupation of Palestine (Judaea Capta) echo from antiquity into the present.

Project “Holy Land”: Yaakov Benor-Kalter’s Photographs of British Mandate Palestine, 1923-1940

On View: 
Aug 28, 2018 to Jun 28, 2019

Exhibition dates: Aug. 28, 2018 to Dec. 14, 2018 and Jan. 29, 2018 to Jun. 28, 2019

For nearly two decades, Yaakov (Jacob) Benor-Kalter (1897-1969) traversed the Old City of Jerusalem, documenting renowned historical monuments, ambiguous subjects in familiar alleyways, and scores of “new Jews” building a new homeland. Benor-Kalter’s photographs smoothly oscillate between two worlds, and two Holy Lands, with one lens.

High Holy Days at the Luna Park: Show-card Posters from the Firschein Press (Brooklyn, NY, 1920-1974)

On View: 
Jan 23, 2018 to Jun 29, 2018

This exhibition presents a selection from the over one hundred “show-card” posters printed by the Firschein Press, a small business operated by East European Jewish immigrants, that served local Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Brooklyn for the better half of the 20th century. Oscar Firschein brought the posters to California once the Press ceased its activities. He and his wife, Theda, donated them to The Magnes in 2017.