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 every week from Tuesday through Friday, 11am-4pm, and on evenings and weekends during public events. Entrance is free.

The annual exhibition schedule follows UC Berkeley's Academic Calendar, with openings in the Fall and Spring semesters of each year.


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 (except during holiday curtailment time, Dec. 23-Jan. 2nd). For further information about collection access, consult the Collection Services Page of this website.

The Karaite Canon: Manuscripts and Ritual Objects from Cairo

On View: 
Jan 23, 2018 to Jun 29, 2018
Aug 28, 2018 to Dec 14, 2018

In 1971, Seymour Fromer (1922-2009), founder of The Magnes, led an expedition to Cairo, Egypt. The Karaite Canon highlights a selection from the over fifty manuscripts he brought to California, along with ritual objects belonging to Cairo’s Karaite community. At the time, the aim of The Magnes was to salvage unique documents during a period of great turmoil in the Middle East.

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.

Sketching "Fiddler": Set Designs by Mentor Huebner

On View: 
Aug 29, 2017 to Dec 15, 2017

The holdings of The Magnes include a set of original and working copies of sketches and storyboard drawings created by Mentor Huebner for the 1971 feature film, Fiddler on the Roof, along with a small selection of set photographs. The film, directed by Norman Jewison, starred Chaim Topol in the title role, and was based on the stories by Sholem Aleichem (born Shalom Rabinovitz, 1859–1916), a founder of modern Yiddish literature.

The Invisible Museum: History and Memory of Morocco

On View: 
Aug 29, 2017 to Jun 29, 2018

Since its inception in 1962, the former Judah L. Magnes Museum distinguished itself by directing its collecting efforts outside the focus on European Jewish culture and history that was prevalent among American Jewish museums at the time. During the 1970s and 1980s, its founders, Seymour and Rebecca Fromer, actively corralled an informal team of activist collectors and supporters. Together, they were able to bring to Berkeley art and material culture from North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.

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

On View: 
May 10, 2017 to May 31, 2018
Aug 28, 2018 to Dec 14, 2018

This exhibition will be continuing in the fall.  

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.

From the Photographer’s Archive: Roman Vishniac

On View: 
Jan 24, 2017 to Jun 23, 2017

The work of Roman Vishniac (1897-1990), a Russian-born photographer most notable for documenting eastern-European Jewish life in the years immediately preceding the Holocaust, has been celebrated in exhibitions and publications since the 1940s. Following the photographer's death, his daughter, Mara Vishniac Kohn, became the executor of Roman Vishniac’s estate. In 2007, the Roman Vishniac Archive was established at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Its collections comprise over thirty thousand objects spanning more than six decades, and include more than nine thousand unprinted negatives, recently discovered vintage photographic prints, film footage, and personal correspondence.

The Power of Attention: Magic & Meditation in Hebrew "shiviti" Manuscript Art

On View: 
Jan 24, 2017 to Dec 15, 2017

Created from the early-modern period and into the present, shiviti manuscripts are found in Hebrew prayer books, ritual textiles, and on the walls of synagogues and homes throughout the Jewish diaspora. Wrestling with ways to externalize the presence of God in Jewish life, these documents center upon the graphic representation of God's ineffable four-letter Hebrew name, the Tetragrammaton, and associate it with words and imageries that evoke mystical powers, protective energy, and angels, as well as key places and characters in Biblical and Jewish history. 

I-Tal-Yah: An Island of Divine Dew. Italian Crossroads in Jewish Culture

On View: 
Aug 30, 2016 to Jun 23, 2017

Never before the creation of the State of Israel did Jews of so many origins live together, and in such a stimulating environment, as they did in the land they soon started calling in Hebrew i-tal-yah, an “Island of Divine Dew”.