The Working Group on Modern Jewish Culture is an exciting new initiative of The Magnes, supported by the Townsend Center for the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley. The Working Group meets monthly, and benefits from the participation of faculty, Magnes curators, and graduate students in Jewish Studies and other area studies. Its ongoing [...]
The symbology of Passover, the Festival of freedom, liberation, emancipation, or self-determination – depending on how one interprets the Hebrew definition of the celebration, חג החרות, chag ha-cherut – is difficult to escape. Ritual objects and material culture do not shy away from these interpretations, and instead enhance them by pointing to the practical implications [...]
Since its inception in 1962, the Magnes has strived to represent the Jewish experience in all of its manifestations: material culture, the visual arts, music, historical documents, and of course text. This has resulted in a multi-faceted collection that provides a wide-angled perspective on culture and history in the Global Jewish Diaspora. This diversity of holdings also presents a challenge. How can materials traditionally stored in distinct repositories – Archives, Libraries and Museums – all coexist under the same roof? How can they best be preserved? And, most importantly, what kind of access can be provided to them?
Access to a collection is determined by how the collection itself is described to the public. The question, then, is how can archive, library and museum collections be described within one and the same context. In this post, I am sharing with our readers a series of thoughts that were debated over the last two years among the Magnes staff: in which “collections” do the holdings of the Magnes belong? And, more to the point, what constitutes a “collection”?