The display cases at the very center of The Magnesbuilding are designed to unleash the curatorial mindby presenting diverse collection items, a variety ofdisplay modes, and a wide range of perspectives.This is the ideal platform for the
exhibi-tion series, conceived as a “scholar’s playground.”Each year, UC Berkeley faculty, graduate studentsand visiting scholars will collaborate with thecurators of The Magnes in creating collection-basedexhibitions based on emerging research.It is our privilege to inaugurate the series with anexhibition created in collaboration with JeffreyShandler, Professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers,and a leading gure in the study of modern Jewishculture.
The Inventory Project
draws on his currentresearch on the role of inventory as a practice ofmodern Jewish life and offers an unconventionallook at The Magnes Collection’s multi-dimensionalarchive, library, and museum holdings.In the course of several months, Jeffrey Shandlerand I explored the collection in search of a varietyof items that relate to the act of inventorying. Wehighlight here rosters, calendars, glossaries, andmaps, but also ritual objects, items of clothing, post-cards, souvenir books, and restaurant menus. Theseobjects were created by Jews in Europe, Israel andthe Americas, as well as North Africa, the MiddleEast and India, to take stock of their own activitiesand social status, to celebrate themselves and theircommunities, or to cope with immigration and exile.At times, they were also the product of the “other”—as in the emblematic case of the bureaucratic appa-ratus of the Spanish Inquisition—devised to accountfor Jewish particularism.Each of the eighty items in the exhibition is subjectto a multiplicity of views and interpretations.Accompanying the physical display, digital compo-nents online and on-site will allow for the growingunderstanding of a phenomenon that, as JeffreyShandler writes, is a “dening practice of modernJewish culture, although seldom recognized as such.”
—Francesco Spagnolo, Curator