Francesco Spagnolo showing collection storage to students


Students at The Magnes

February 9, 2023

Students play an important role at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, one of the world’s preeminent Jewish collections in a university setting.

“As well as being the meaningful, historical connection to my Jewish heritage… the [URAP] apprenticeship has introduced me to various museum practices and techniques concerning collection cataloging — especially in the digital sphere, researching and fact-checking.”

– Ana, former URAP student at The Magnes

Student Research Apprenticeship at The Magnes

Cal students in the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP) work closely with curator Francesco Spagnolo and his team on world-renowned research projects. The experience deepens their knowledge in Jewish studies and their professional skills as part of a research organization.

Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program video
Find out why students love UC Berkeley’s Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP) opportunities at The Magnes Collection!

URAP students at The Magnes work hands-on with primary sources from the global Jewish Diaspora; conduct research on the collections both onsite and online; and learn best practices in museum collections management, including cataloging, inventorying, digitizing, re-housing, and fact-checking. Apprentices gain experience in many aspects of museum work, from exhibition preparation to adopting cutting-edge digital humanities tools and perspectives.

Phil Hanna at Vishniac Open House
Undergraduate research apprentice, Phil, discussing his work with the Roman Vishniac Archive during an open house.

UC Berkeley Seminar at The Magnes

In partnership with the Center for Jewish Studies, Professors Ethan Katz and Francesco Spagnolo co-teach History of Jewish Law and Ritual (Jewish Studies 290) at The Magnes. The course explores topics of Jewish ritual and Jewish law from the interconnected perspectives of both halakhah and minhag (normative and non-normative Judaism) across legal and literary texts, music, and objects. Katz and Spagnolo incorporate materials from The Magnes’ collection into their curriculum to deepen students’ learning.

Class Visits to The Magnes

Each semester, professors at UC Berkeley and other Bay Area schools bring their students to The Magnes to study the collections and museology.

students in Magnes collection storage
Museum studies students tour collection storage at The Magnes.

The Magnes will host several class visits in February 2023, led by Dr. Spagnolo and collections registrar Julie Franklin. 

  • UC Berkeley’s Department of German and History DAAD Visiting Professor Philipp Lenhard’s students will view and discuss selections of antisemitic materials.
  • Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Culture Associate Professor of Egyptology Rita Lucarelli’s students will collect 3D documentation of various objects as part of their training in Digital Humanities at UC Berkeley.
  • Koret Professor of Jewish Studies John Efron will rely on objects, memorabilia, archival collections and photographs from the collection to teach his UC Berkeley course on Antisemitism and Jewish Responses.
  • The Critical Museum Studies Working Group of the Townsend Center for the Humanities will meet at The Magnes, learning about collections and discussing the current exhibitions.
  • San Francisco State University Professor Lissette Jiménez’s museum studies class will tour The Magnes’ storage facilities and galleries.

“There aren’t many places in the world where a group can gather and simply appreciate the beauty and diversity of the human experience. That is why I believe The Magnes is truly a fantastic part of the Berkeley community, for it allows those from all walks of life to come together and learn from each other. I really enjoy talking to our guests and listening to their perspectives on the exhibits, since a museum is where history should be shared and people should feel understood.”

– Ian, Visitor Services Representative, UC Berkeley Sophomore, Anthropology Major
Work-Study at The Magnes front desk

Students Working at The Magnes

Each semester, Work-Study students are hired at The Magnes as Visitor Service Representatives and Marketing Assistants.

UC Berkeley’s Work-Study Program provides a greater opportunity to earn rather than borrow money to pay for educational expenses. Giving students access to work with the schedule flexibility they need so they can have a healthy balance between school commitments and their work obligations.

Photo: The Magnes Visitor Services Representative and Work-Study welcoming guests at the front desk.

The Magnes’ Work-Study students are an integral part of supporting the collection, its programs, exhibitions, and community. 

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