Programs History

The Magnes has a fifty-year history of presenting exhibitions that break new ground in Jewish Studies research, build upon the collaboration between curators and UC Berkeley faculty and students, expand Judaica connoisseurship, introduce under-recognized Jewish artists of the 20th century, and take risks with experimental projects by contemporary artists. Many of its exhibitions drawn on selections from its extensive collections, or commissioned works that use the collections as inspiration. 

This page is a growing archive of the exhibition history of the institution since its founding in 1962. The description of each exhibition is augmented by texts and label texts, images, press releases, links to press coverage and artists and contributors websites.

Visitors to the website who have been involved with any of the exhibitions created by the former Judah L. Magnes Museum and wish to contribute additional materials are encouraged to do so, reaching out to our staff through our contact information page.

PopUp Exhibition | Mira Amiras on The Future of a Legacy: Seymour Fromer and the Making of The Magnes

Wed, Oct 19, 2016 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Dr. Mira Amiras, Professor Emerita of Comparative Religious Studies, San Jose State University, received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. She is the daughter of the founders of the Judah L. Magnes Museum, Seymour Fromer and Rebecca Camhi Fromer.

PopUp Exhibition | Patricia Munro and Claude Fischer on Coming of Age in Jewish America: the Curious Case of the Bar and Bat Mitzvah

Wed, Sep 21, 2016 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Drawing on Dr. Patricia Munro's research in Bay Area synagogues, Professor Claude Fischer and Dr. Munro will focus on how the Bar and Bat mitzvah developed into a major American Jewish ritual, how it has both responded to changes in the Jewish community (particularly rising egalitarianism and intermarriage), and how it has changed the Jewish community.

PopUp Exhibition | Rita Lucarelli on Ancient Egyptian and Jewish Magic

Wed, Apr 27, 2016 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Pharaonic magic has broadly influenced magic in Antiquity; in particular, ancient Jewish magical texts and practices reveal interesting points of contact with earlier Egyptian sources. During this talk, a few issues concerning a comparative study of magic in Antiquity will be discussed by bringing as a case-study the comparison between ancient Egyptian and Jewish magic.

Great Stories | Spring 2016

Tue, Apr 19, 2016 5:00pm to 6:00pm

Dr. Noreen Green, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJS), which she founded in 1994, discusses the history of film music, concentrating on the contribution of Jewish émigré composers. The talk will include the screening of movie highlights, as well as recordings from the LAJS performances.

Lecture at The Piano & Film Screening | Nicholas McGegan in conversation with Francesco Spagnolo: The Mendelssohns and Their Worlds

Tue, Apr 12, 2016 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Nicholas McGegan is Music Director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Pasadena Symphony and, beginning in 2014, Artist in Association with Australia’s Adelaide Symphony. Through 29 years as its music director, McGegan has established the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Philharmonia Chorale as one of the world’s leading period-performance ensembles, with notable appearances at Carnegie Hall, the London Proms, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the International Handel Festival, Göttingen where he was artistic director from 1991 to 2011. Active in opera as well as the concert hall, McGegan was principal conductor of Sweden’s perfectly preserved 18th-century Drottingholm Theater from 1993 to 1996.

Reading Yehuda Amichai: Robert Alter and Chana Kronfeld in Conversation

Thu, Apr 07, 2016 5:00pm to 8:00pm

Robert Alter is Professor of the Graduate School and Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.  He is the author of twenty-six books and has received numerous awards, including the Robert Kirsch Award of the Los Angeles Times for lifetime contribution to American literature, the Charles Homer Haskins Prize for career achievement from the American Council of Learned Societies, and honorary degrees from Yale, the Hebrew University, the University of Haifa, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. 

Curating Culture, Making Memory: On the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Sun, Apr 03, 2016 11:00am to 6:00pm

Curating Culture, Making Memory: On the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews

11 a.m.-6 p.m., April 3

A day of film and lectures highlighting the Polin Museum located in Warszawa and Jewish history in Poland. 

Lecture | Celia Applegate: Family Ties: How the Mendelssohns Understood Their Own History

Mon, Mar 14, 2016 5:00pm to 7:00pm


In 1879, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s son Sebastian published “Die Familie Mendelssohn 1729-1847” as the “chronicle of a good German Bürger Family.” It carried an epigram from Goethe’s Iphigenie as its frontispiece, on the joy of recounting the deeds of one’s fathers. This lecture will work backwards in time from this 1879 family chronicle, using letters and other writings of members of the Mendelssohn family to illuminate their emerging self-understanding as a German-Jewish family.