Memory Lab

Memory Lab is an interactive laboratory where users can create a digital story based on their life or research, on their family’s history, or on that of their organization, with the help of Magnes staff and using the software, MemoryMiner. This groundbreaking experiment, which encompasses technology, digital archiving and oral history, has spawned similar projects, such as the Fort Collins Memory Project, and has been presented at national and international conferences. 

The Memory Lab project operated at the Judah L. Magnes Museum between 2008 and 2010, and is now suspended. It is expected to resume, with a renewed focus on collection work, upon the completion of the new facility that will host The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in downtown Berkeley. 

In these pages, you can watch a video that explains how MemoryMiner is used at The Magnes, read the original description of the project, and view a choice of sample projects produced in the original Memory Lab. 


Introduction to Memory Lab (2008)

please note that the program is not currently active: the following description is published for archival purposes only

The Magnes believes that everyone has a story to tell. We want to help you share your story—digitally! 

In less than an hour, the Magnes will teach you how to record your memories and scan your pictures in order to create a digital album using the award-winning software, MemoryMiner

Memory Lab is open to individuals, families, organizations and groups. As part of its focus on narrating the history of the networks of Jewish life in California and beyond, the program is especially suited for:

  • Young parents – for whom the past is the key to the future;
  • Seniors – who may want to bring their (tech-savvy) children and grandchildren;
  • Teachers – who will discover new tools for classrooms projects and presentations;
  • Jewish organizations, synagogues, and groups – whose communal history is preserved in the Western Jewish History archives at the Magnes

What to bring to Memory Lab:

In order to create a digital album, you will need to be prepared to tell a story. You could document a specific event in your life, your family’s immigration to America, or how your organization has impacted communal life in the Bay Area. The options are endless! What story are you going to tell?

In addition, you will have the opportunity to film yourself at the museum telling part of your story. This recorded segment will enhance your digital album with live narration. Feel free to prepare a short script in advance.

We recommend that you bring with you 6-10 pieces of memorabilia (i.e. photographs, postcards, drawings, certificates, etc.). These items will be the pictures in your digital album.

A note to participants:

The Magnes asks that you donate a copy of your digital album to its archive for the ongoing preservation of Jewish history. It will then be necessary for you to sign the following release forms, which will also be available at the museum. [Download the Release Forms (Word Doc)] 

Memory Lab is open by appointment only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 2:00–4:00pm. It will take approximately one hour to create a digital album.

Reservations are required. Please check the Memory Lab Calendar for availability, then make a reservation online or call 510.549.6950 ext. 0.

Memory Lab is also available for groups. Please call 510.549.6950 ext. 0 or email info@magnes.org to discuss your group needs, or for general assistance.

To participate in Memory Lab, there is a suggested entrance fee of $6.00 for adults, $4.00 for students and seniors, and it is free for children under 12 and Magnes members.

Are you unable to visit the Magnes to make your digital album? You can make one at home, too! Become a MAGNES.org member and you will receive a complimentary license of the Magnes' version of MemoryMiner

Some of the projects created in the Memory Lab can be viewed following the links below. To view all of the Memory Lab projects on Flickr, the collection may be found here.
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