Francesco Spagnolo, Curator

Closed (1) The Jewish World and the #DigitalHumanities | The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (Hybrid Apprenticeship Fall 2021)

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The Undergraduate Research Apprentice will conduct in-house and online research about the holdings of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life; assist with research on collection items, catalog and accession records; fact-check existing information in museum catalogs, books, and online resources; and proofread exhibition labels and web pages.

In-depth research areas encompass Jewish history and culture in the global Jewish diaspora, with an emphasis on Digital Humanities tools, methodologies, and critical perspectives. Specific areas of collection-based research includes diverse mediums (paintings, sculpture, material culture, textiles, rare books, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, and more) as well as areas and languages from the global Jewish diaspora (Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, India, and the Americas).

Research is directly supervised by the Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, and by Graduate Fellows.

The Apprentice will also be involved in the creation of several current and upcoming research and exhibitions projects, such as the ones described at http://magnes.berkeley.edu.

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About The Magnes

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life was established in 2010 after the transfer of the holdings 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 Its remarkably diverse archive, library and museum holdings include art, objects, texts, music, and historical documents about the Jews in the Global Diaspora and the American West.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, The Magnes provides highly innovative and accessible resources to researchers and visitors, is the site of classes taught through UC Berkeley academic departments, and organizes working groups with faculty and graduate students. The former Judah L. Magnes Museum, one of the first Jewish museums in the United States, was founded in Berkeley in 1962.

The research apprentice will have the opportunity to work hands-on with primary sources from the global Jewish Diaspora, including rare objects, documents, photographs, books, manuscripts, and artwork from the 16th century to our days. The apprenticeship offers a unique chance to learn about collection research, exhibition preparation, and print and online publication work, operating in a collaborative environment and with cutting-edge digital humanities tools and perspectives. Apprentices are expected to work a minimum of six hours per week.

Qualifications: We seek students with good collaborative and communication skills, and with strong interest and research skills in European, Near Eastern and American history, art history, anthropology, and, of course, Jewish studies. We welcome students with language skills that may include Hebrew, Yiddish, German, Arabic and Malayalam. Students who are familiar with digital tools (digitization, image processing, HTML, QR coding, WordPress and Drupal) are also welcome to apply, regardless of their language or culturally-specific skills.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: The Magnes is located between Campus and BART at 2121 Allston Way.

Related website: http://magnes.berkeley.edu
Related website: https://www.flickr.com/photos/magnesmuseum/albums/72157624130106653

Closed (2) Invisible in Plain Sight: Islamic Art in Jewish Museum Collections | The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (Hybrid Apprenticeship Fall 2021)

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Founded in 1962 by Seymour Fromer and Rebecca Kamchi Fromer, the Judah L. Magnes Museum established an important record as a Jewish collecting institution focusing on the broad spectrum of Jewish cultures, outside the normative Eurocentric view that dominated Jewish culture at the time. Through important “rescue missions” carried out by Magnes emissaries in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, and India, The Magnes secured considerable holdings documenting the cultural and artistic legacy of Jewish communities worldwide. Additional acquisitions include items from Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, and Uzbekistan. These materials now amount to almost 3,000 items, including objects for the synagogue and the Jewish home, textiles and garments, books, manuscripts, photographs, and archival materials.

Over the decades, the former Magnes Museum documented some of these holdings through pioneering publications and exhibitions aimed at highlighting the specific cultures that they represented. Since the establishment of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at UC Berkeley in 2010, these unique artifacts have been undergoing systematic inventory, cataloging, and digital documentation carried out by collections staff. At the same time, they have been activated through exhibitions, programs, and online projects aimed at highlighting their global and intercultural, rather than local and Jewish-centric, relevance to world culture.

In recent years, large museums across the United States have been trying to define--or redefine--the “right place” for Jewish culture within encyclopedic collections. The recent appointments of dedicated Judaica curators at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are paving the way for a new appreciation of Jewish artifacts beyond the reach of “Jewish museums” alone. These forays into “mainstreaming” Judaica are typically aimed at finding an intercultural space for Jewish culture within the canons of Western museum culture.

Thanks to its pioneering role in collecting and documenting Jewish cultural heritage from beyond the West (Europe, North America and, in part, Israel), The Magnes is singularly positioned to explore how Judaica may operate in the broad intercultural exchanges that also characterize the Islamic World. Recent exhibitions, such as Global India: Kerala, Israel, Berkeley(2013-2014)The Power of Attention: Magic Meditation in Hebrew Manuscript Art (2017)The Invisible Museum: History and Memory of Morocco(2017-2018), and The Karaite Canon: Manuscript and Ritual Objects from Cairo, all highlighted the relevance of the non-European holdings of The Magnes, enhancing both scholarship and public awareness. These exhibitions, which also investigated the provenance of Judaica from the lands of Islam, highlighted how little is known to this day about what holdings are still part of major museum collections in North-African and Middle Eastern countries.

This research project aims at achieving several goals:
1. Completion of the survey and digital documentation of items in The Magnes Collection that represent the legacy of Jewish communities in the Islamic World;
2. Documentation of the collecting history of these materials from within the Islamic world;
3. Creation of an online database that will present these items via the website of The Magnes in an unprecedented and innovative framework, highlighting the intercultural role of Jewish artifacts within Islamic culture through a collaboration between curators of Jewish and Islamic art;
4. Identification of Jewish museum holdings across the Islamic world and possible future collaborative initiatives;
5. Planning of a new public program and exhibition based on collaborative research by curators and scholars, at UC Berkeley, the Graduate Theological Union, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, focusing on the role of Jewish cultural expressions and other Islamicate cultures within Islam.


The research apprentice will have the opportunity to work hands-on with primary sources from the global Jewish Diaspora, including rare objects, documents, photographs, books, manuscripts, and artwork from the 16th century to our days, and to create descriptive metadata to be made accessible by the public, online and on site. The apprenticeship offers a unique chance to learn about collection research, museums, online publication, operating in a collaborative environment and with cutting-edge digital humanities tools and perspectives. Apprentices are expected to work a minimum of six hours per week.

Qualifications: We seek students with good collaborative and communication skills, who are interested in cultural heritage and museum studies, and who are familiar with digital tools (digitization, image processing, HTML, QR coding, WordPress and Drupal).

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: The Magnes is located between Campus and BART at 2121 Allston Way.

Related website: http://magnes.berkeley.edu
Related website: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLX931t

Closed (3) A Diaspora of Postcards: Documenting the Postcard Collection of The Magnes (Hybrid Apprenticeship Fall 2021)

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The Magnes collection includes approximately four thousand postcards dating from the last decades of the 19th century through the latter decades of the 20th century.

Due to their compact size, ease of use, aesthetic immediacy, and ability to quickly connect individuals on a global scale, postcards have had a pivotal role in Jewish life since their invention in 1861.

The postcards in the Magnes collection are related to a variety of aspects characterizing social relations in modern Jewish life. They are greeting cards sent on the occasion of major Jewish holidays (Rosh ha-shanah and Hanukkah) to connect with far-away relatives and friends, depictions of Jewish sites and customs worldwide, of historical events (from the Dreyfus Affair to the Holocaust and the foundation of the State of Israel), pocket-size musical scores for songs in Hebrew and Yiddish, and a public forum for social commentary, at times tainted by anti-Semitism or by the challenges presented by emancipation, and by immigration to America.

The Undergraduate Research Apprentice will conduct in-house and on-line research about the postcard holdings of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. URAP students will learn museum best practices for collection assessment and cataloging; assisting with inventorying, digitizing, re-housing, researching, fact-checking existing information in museum database, and cataloging of museum postcards. Research work will be directly supervised by curatorial assistant and curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. The research apprentice will have the opportunity to work “hands-on” with primary sources from the global Jewish Diaspora. The apprenticeship offers a unique chance to learn about collection research, exhibition preparation, and print and online publication work, operating in a collaborative environment and with cutting-edge digital humanities tools and perspectives. , Staff Researcher

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Related website: https://www.flickr.com/photos/magnesmuseum/albums/72157624130106653
Related website: http://magnesalm.org

Closed (4) Vanished no more: Giant of photography Roman Vishniac at The Magnes (Hybrid Apprenticeship Fall 2021)

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Roman Vishniac (1897-1990) took some of the most culturally and scientifically important photographs of the 20th century.

In 2018, The Magnes received the unprecedented gift of the Roman Vishniac archive, a collection comprising thousands of images ranging from street photography in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s to comprehensive documentation of Jewish life in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust, to images of New York City (including, most notably, Chinatown) in the 1940s and 1950s, to thousands of scientific images created through innovative microscopic photography.

The Magnes is seeking skilled and motivated undergraduate research apprentices to assist in the work of documenting the collection, identifying and researching each image. The materials include 6,500 photographic prints (1,500 are scientific prints), 20 binders of contact sheets, 10,000 negatives, 40 albums of slides, and 10 linear feet of archival documents. In the Spring Semester 2019, students will have the chance to be the first students at UC Berkeley to participate in this unprecedented multi-year effort.

The Undergraduate Research Apprentice will conduct in-house and online research about the Vishniac Archive of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. URAP students will learn museum best practices for collection assessment and cataloging; assisting with inventorying, digitizing, re-housing, researching, fact-checking existing information in museum databases, and cataloging images and archival materials. Research work will be directly supervised by the curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. The research apprentice will have the opportunity to work “hands-on” with primary sources. The apprenticeship offers a unique chance to learn about collection research, exhibition preparation, and print and online publication work, operating in a collaborative environment and with cutting-edge digital humanities tools and perspectives. Apprentices are expected to work a minimum of six hours per week., Staff Researcher

Qualifications: We seek students with good collaborative, communication, and organizational skills, and with strong interest and research skills in European and American history, art history, the history of science, anthropology, zoology, chemistry, and, of course, Jewish studies. We welcome students with language skills that may include Hebrew, Yiddish, German, and Russian. Students who are familiar with digital tools (digitization, image processing, HTML, QR coding, and Drupal) are also welcome to apply, regardless of their language or culturally-specific skills.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Related website: http://magnes.berkeley.edu
Related website: https://news.berkeley.edu/2018/11/20/vanished-no-more-giant-of-photography-roman-vishniac-finds-a-home-at-berkeley/