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.

The Bagel and the Archive: Celebrating Noah’s Bagels Legacy at The Magnes

Sun, Nov 13, 2016 10:00am to 12:00pm

The Magnes is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Noah’s New York Bagels Collection (1989-1996) documenting the early history of Noah’s New York Bagels. Founded in Berkeley by Noah Alper, resident entrepreneur, consultant, and philanthropist, the Noah’s Bagels brand rose to national prominence as the largest kosher retailer in the U.S., until sold to Einstein Bros. Bagels in 1996.

PopUp Exhibition | Howard Freedman on 78rpm Records and the Sound of American Jewish Experience

Wed, Nov 09, 2016 12:00pm to 1:00pm

The pinnacle of Jewish immigration to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century coincided with the rise of the phonograph disc (which was itself invented by a Jewish immigrant). This presentation will offer a guided tour of sounclips from the first decades of the twentieth century, including rare 78rpm discs from the Magnes collection, focusing on what these records tell us about the encounter of immigrant Jews and American culture.

Music & Activism: Israeli superstar Noa (Achinoam Nini) in conversation with Professor Ben Brinner

Mon, Nov 07, 2016 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Achinoam Nini, also known as Noa, an Israeli of Yemenite descent who was raised in the U.S., is Israel’s leading international singer/songwriter. Noa’s strongest influences come from such singer-songwriters of the 60s as Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Leonard Cohen. These musical and lyrical sensibilities, combined with Noa’s Yemenite roots and Gil Dor’s strong background in jazz, rock, and classical music, have created Noa and Gil’s unique sound, heard in hundreds of songs they have written and performed together.

PopUp Exhibition | Zachary Bleemer with Aiko Gonzalez and Clayton Hale (URAP) on The Passover Haggadah: Digital Perspectives

Wed, Nov 02, 2016 12:00pm to 1:00pm

How do Jewish communities in the global diaspora transform the Passover Haggadah to meet their local needs (visually, symbolically, and textually), and what information do these transformations provide about the common beliefs held by each community?

PopUp Exhibition | Karen Barkey, Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites: Mixed Attendance at Greek Orthodox Churches in Istanbul

Wed, Oct 26, 2016 12:00pm to 1:00pm

The talk will describe and analyze Professor Karen Barkey’s two seasons of ethnographic study of the sharing in Greek Orthodox Churches in Istanbul, Turkey. The study explores identities, practices and patterns of participation in church rituals and life. The presentation will delineate between different choreographies of sharing, the borrowing of traditions, and the bricolage of practices that occurs as generations of Muslims and Christians accommodate to each other’s religious needs and negotiate in public their otherness.

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.