professor and student talking to each other next to a display case


Campus Connections

November 7, 2023

As a museum within the University of California, Berkeley, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life partners with students, faculty, and staff across academic disciplines to support research, teaching, and learning with one of the world’s preeminent Jewish collections.

The Museum as a Classroom

Each semester, faculty at UC Berkeley and other Bay Area schools bring their students to The Magnes to study the collections and understand the work of museums.

This fall, The Magnes has hosted nearly 200 students during class visits from departments across campus, including the Center for Jewish Studies, English, the Helen Diller Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, History, and Italian Studies. Working closely with professors and lecturers, Curator Francesco Spagnolo and Collections Registrar Julie Franklin teach with the collection, connecting Jewish material culture with a broad range of academic coursework and research.

curator speaking with group of students in gallery
UC Berkeley Department of History Professor Philipp Lenhard brought his Modern Germany: Germany 1914 to the Present class to The Magnes in October to view images from Cities and Wars: Roman Vishniac in Berlin and Jerusalem 1947/1967 and learn about the exhibition.

Research Apprenticeships

In collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP), The Magnes provides Cal students with unique, hands-on opportunities to conduct research on the collection. Mentored by Curator Francesco Spagnolo and his team, these apprenticeships deepen students’ knowledge in Jewish studies and build their professional skills in museum work, from cataloging to exhibition development.

“I am so excited to work with the postcard collection at The Magnes as a way of exploring my love of art and deepening my connection to my Jewish culture. I am specifically interested in highlighting the experiences of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews as well as other marginalized peoples within the Jewish diaspora.”

– Julia, URAP student, UC Berkeley senior, Art History and Spanish major

This semester, six URAP students, with majors ranging from Global Studies and Journalism to Art Practice and History, have joined The Magnes to work on three different collections-based projects.

Student Staff at The Magnes

The team at The Magnes includes nine student workers this semester. These students engage visitors during the museum’s open hours, support our programs, and develop engaging content for our social media channels.

Young man in beige sweater standing at entrance door to The Magnes

“The Magnes stands out as a unique hub in Berkeley, dedicated to showcasing and celebrating Jewish culture, history, and art. Its mission of uniting the community resonates deeply with me, and I feel privileged to be able to contribute to it.”

– Jordan, Visitor Services Representative, UC Berkeley senior, Political Science major

Cross-Departmental Collaboration

The Magnes regularly partners with university departments, centers, and programs to engage the campus community as well as the public. 

Together, the Center for Jewish Studies, the Helen Diller Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, and The Magnes establish UC Berkeley as a leader in Jewish and Israel studies education and research. Their collective tapestry of offerings supports student learning, advances scholarship in Jewish and Israel studies, and connects the public to the work of the university. 

Campus collaborations showcase the multi-disciplinary opportunities the university setting enables. For example, on November 15th, The Magnes will be co-hosting UC Berkeley Dutch Studies Inaugural Snapper Lecture on Dutch Studies, Transmitting Anne Frank to GenZ: Opportunities and challenges in telling Anne Frank’s life story to the next generation featuring Ronald Leopold, the Director of the Anne Frank House. And a recent program for teens brought together colleagues from The Magnes, Helen Diller Institute, and the School of Journalism to explore themes in Cities and Wars: Roman Vishniac in Berlin and Jerusalem 1947/1967.

group of executives in museum storage room
During October’s College of Letters and Science Advisory Board meeting, Arts and Humanities Dean Sara Guyer brought the advisors to The Magnes for a tour of the collection and current exhibitions.

The Magnes Collection is proud to be a hub for Jewish studies and an integral part of UC Berkeley’s campus community.

Keep Up-To-Date