Art Buzz January 23, 2012: Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life reopens



Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life reopens

Source: San Franciasco Chronicle, 1-23-12

Sarah Rice / Special to The Chronicle

Helen Bobell, of Oakland, shows her son Kai, 22 months, a 20th century Torah Ark pediment at the re-opening of Magnes Museum in Berkeley, Calif., Sunday, January 22, 2012.

The institution long known as Judah L. Magnes Museum – custodian of pre-eminent collections representing the cultural history of Jews in the West – reopened Sunday as the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. The name change tells the story in shorthand.

The Magnes’ utilitarian but sparkling new quarters, a 25,000-square-foot building on Allston Way, just steps from BART’s Downtown Berkeley Station, houses its holdings of paintings, sculpture, textiles, graphic arts and ritual objects. Rare books, musical manuscripts and certain ephemera in its collection will reside elsewhere in UC Berkeley’s library system.

Under an agreement completed in 2010, the collections of the Magnes now belong to the university, which will preserve them for the wider community and as resources for scholars and courses in Jewish history and religious studies.

The Magnes board purchased the Allston Way building – a disused printing plant – in 1997, wisely anticipating the institution’s eventual relocation and expansion, if not on the present terms.

The merger agreement with UC Berkeley followed lengthy efforts that ultimately failed to marry the Magnes with the San Francisco institution now known as the Contemporary Jewish Museum….READ MORE

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