The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
Welcome to the Magnes!
Exhibitions, Programs, and 15,000 Objects from Around the World
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life was established in 2010 following the transfer of the Judah L. Magnes Museum to the University of California, Berkeley. Its remarkably diverse archive, library and museum holdings include art, objects, texts, music, and historical documents about the Jews in the Global Diaspora and the American West. As one of the world's preeminent Jewish collections in a university setting, it provides highly innovative and accessible resources to both researchers and the general public.
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 Jewish World: 100 Treasures of Art and Culture, which is being published by Skirà-Rizzoli in the Fall of 2014, is the first comprehensive catalog featuring the holdings of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life.
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”.
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.
Eric Drooker's drawings and posters are a familiar sight in the global street art movement, while his paintings appear frequently on covers of The New Yorker. A Berkeley resident for many years, Drooker was born and raised in New York City, where he began to slap his images on the streets as a teenager. Over time, his reputation as a social critic led to countless editorial illustrations for The Nation, the New York Times, the Progressive, the Village Voice, etc. Drooker won the American Book Award for Flood!
Alongside a distinguished career in college and university planning, Ira Fink has assembled a significant research collection of books on synagogue architecture and Jewish ceremonial art. A graduate of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Dr. Fink’s family collection includes one of the few surviving sets of the eleven lithographs of the famous Had Gadya, the Passover song illustrated in 1919 by the Russian Avant Garde artist, typographer and designer El Lissitzky (1890-1941).
Barbara Goldstein is a historian of European fascism. She received her PhD from the University of Vienna, Austria with a dissertation devoted to newsreel films created by the Austrian Police between 1929-1938 as part of governmental fascist propaganda campaigns.One of Goldstein’s focuses and special interests is in historic administrative structures and “infamous people” in the early-modern period.
Shana Penn is executive director of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture and a visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union's Center for Jewish Studies. Her award-winning book, Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland (University of Michigan Press, 2005) examined women’s leadership role in defeating Poland’s communist regime. Presently, Penn is completing a book on the revitalization of Jewish culture in Poland after the fall of Communism.
Polish-born Yiddishist and oral historian Agnieszka Ilwicka will talk about her research project "Love in the Ruins: Jewish Life in Lower Silesia 1945-1968." After World War II, Lower Silesia was the largest Jewish settlement in Europe.