Meshoreim Photo by Roman Vishniac


A message from Director John Efron (Jan 2022)

January 9, 2022

John Efron

While the air of uncertainty is all around us, The Magnes nonetheless pushes forward, determined to fulfill its mission, namely, to highlight and make accessible the material treasures of Jewish civilization. There are numerous ways we do this: by opening our doors to the public; via our digital platforms where one can examine images from our collection online and via scholarly discussions about our collections. 

On May 2nd The Magnes, in collaboration with the Center for Jewish Studies, will host an event celebrating the richness of the Roman Vishniac Archive. This inaugural event, entitled, “In Focus: Roman Vishniac 1922-2022,” combines a digital exhibition of photographs of Jewish life from Eastern and Central Europe from before World War II, and a day-long symposium with a group of internationally acclaimed scholars, who will discuss the historical context and content of the photographs Vishniac took in the interwar period.

We are planning to hold the day’s events both in person and virtually. If the campus is fully open, we will host a traditional event at The Magnes with all the trappings. Otherwise, we will hit the “unmute” button and the event will go out over Zoom. Whatever the circumstances of the day, the event promises to be one of great interest and excitement.

What I have learned in my short time as Director of The Magnes is that it will never again be a museum just for people who can physically visit the building. The consequences of the pandemic have pushed us to think more creatively about engagement through multiple media platforms and to acknowledge that just as our collections come from around the world, so do our potential audiences. Welcome to the new world of The Magnes!

With deepest gratitude,

John Efron
Esther and Jacques Reutlinger Director
The Magnes Collection
Koret Professor of Jewish History

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