Posed on behalf of Valerija Nechay, Kohn Intern at the Magnes in the Summer of 2010. Valerija is currently a student at UC Santa Cruz, majoring in Sociology.
My brief time at the Magnes over the past eight weeks allowed me to take a glimpse into the rebirth of the most significant collection of Western Jewish history. On July 1, one of the oldest independent Jewish museums in the country moved out of its location in the residential Berkeley neighborhood to become part of the University of California, Berkeley. My initial expectations about what such a transition would entail were wildly exceeded. However, I was profoundly and consistently impressed with the ability of the Magnes staff to make it look effortless.
During my first week, I dove straight into the development of the recently revamped website. By the second week, my role shifted from digital preservation of Magnes history online to helping pave a new direction in its future. Everyone worked tirelessly to box, label, and generally ensure that every detail of relocation to The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley would be as smooth as possible. The next few weeks of unpacking, settling in, and tying loose ends at our former location taught me how imperative organizational skills are in advancing such a complex project. The remainder of my time focused on digitally archiving the fifty-year history of Magnes exhibitions to make this information readily available to the Jewish community and researchers. The Bancroft Library staff greeted us with enthusiasm and warmth, which also contributed to my meaningful and memorable experience at the Magnes.