The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

Executive Director, Berkeley, CA


The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (The Magnes) is a rare jewel. One of the largest and internationally most important collections of Jewish art and artifacts, it is located at UC Berkeley the world's leading public university. The Magnes provides an unparalleled view of Jewish art and culture through its wide-ranging and multidisciplinary offerings.

A pioneer from the beginning, The Magnes was the first Jewish museum established in the United States after World War II. Founded in 1962 by Seymour and Rebecca Fromer, it came into existence just as Jewish studies was being established as an academic field. Focused on preserving the legacy of vanishing communities around the world, the museum quickly helped to transform the study of Jewish cultural history by integrating material artifacts with traditional, text-based approaches. The Magnes also led the study of Jewish history in the American West.

Integrated into UC Berkeley in 2010, The Magnes has continued to expand, receiving two of the four largest gifts of art in UC Berkeley history: the Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection and the Roman Vishniac Archive. It collaborates with the Center for Jewish Studies and the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies to explore Jewish life throughout the Diaspora in ways unmatched by any other institution. More than merely a unique 45,000-object collection (appraised at $100 million), The Magnes is the hub of a vibrant, world-spanning community of scholars, students, and patrons who join together to study its artifacts and archival materials. Through exhibitions, classes, internships, and events, it has shed new light on the transmission of culture through the experience of Jews and Jewish communities who have moved and reinvented themselves and the world around them from antiquity to the present. Listening carefully to the many voices of the Jewish past allows us all to better understand the present, making it possible to find our way together to an inspired and hopeful future.

Since July 1, 2017, The Magnes has been part of the Division of Arts and Humanities, reporting to the Dean through the Center for Jewish Studies. In addition to the Director, The Magnes has a staff of six.

University of California, Berkeley

Founded in 1868 and born out of a vision in the State Constitution of a university that would "contribute even more than California's gold to the glory and happiness of advancing generations", the University of California, Berkeley ("Berkeley") exceeded those early aspirations and became the top-ranked public university and the fourth-best institution overall among public and private universities in the global rankings of US News & World Report. An international model for high-quality, accessible public higher education, Berkeley is distinguished by its combination of world-class academic and research excellence, the transformative opportunity it provides to a large and diverse student body, a public mission and commitment to equity and social justice, and a distinctly Californian ethos animated by such values as innovation, questioning the status quo, and respect for the environment and nature. Since its founding, Berkeley has fueled a perpetual renaissance generating unparalleled intellectual, economic, and social value in California, the United States, and the world.

Integral to the University is an understanding that the diversity of the people of California and the variety of personal experiences, values, and world views that arise from differences of culture and circumstance have been defining sources of innovative ideas and creative accomplishments throughout the state's history into the present. Berkeley recognizes the intrinsic relationship between diversity and excellence in all its endeavors and strives to create a culture that is welcoming and inclusive of people of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, languages, political orientations, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities, socioeconomic statuses, geographic regions, and more. Excellence can only be fully realized by faculty, students, and staff who share a commitment to these values. Successful candidates for this position will demonstrate evidence of a commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

To learn more about the University, please visit https://www.berkeley.edu/.


Attuned to Berkeley as a university and community, the Executive Director will embrace the chance to work with a superlative and vast collection within a dynamic and world-renowned academic institution to deliver an impact larger than the sum of its parts.

As part of the University of California, Berkeley, The Magnes Collection has access to deep intellectual resources, extensive partnerships, and academic excellence. Its mission encourages great creativity in scope and reach. This collection of material culture permits an unusual breadth of collaborations and programmatic opportunity. Located just off campus, The Magnes' current and potential partners include BAMPFA, the Bancroft Library, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, and any of the 35 units housed under Arts

and Humanities. It also has a welcoming community of campus entities with which to collaborate, such as the Center for Jewish Studies, the Helen Diller Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, Berkeley Hillel, UC Berkeley Chancellor's Committee on Jewish Life and Campus Climate, and, of course, The Magnes Museum Foundation. Still more connections exist in the Bay Area, State of California, nationally, and abroad. Newly repositioned to realize its potential, The Magnes Collection seeks an energetic Executive Director inspired by the possibilities to build an internationally influential institute and make a strong impact on those who identify with the archives it holds as well as all those seeking to understand experiences of diaspora.

Centered within the Downtown Arts District, The Magnes benefits from the cultural hub it shares with BAMPFA, Berkeley Rep, Aurora Theatre Company, California Jazz Conservatory, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, The UC Theatre, and Zellerbach Hall the home venue for Cal Performances. Having effectively stimulated the revitalization of Downtown Berkeley, the Downtown Arts District is now expanding beyond its original boundaries and affords The Magnes an immediate sense of destination.

The Executive Director will collaborate with campus, regional, national, and international partners to connect the material culture of the Jewish diaspora to scholarship and community programming. In so doing, the person will integrate The Magnes into cultural life in the Bay Area and academic life of Berkeley. They will steward the collection overseeing its care, development, digitization, and display while developing, empowering, and working closely with the staff to envision and implement short-term and long-range strategic plans for The Magnes's institutional stability and growth, and proactively cultivating supporters and donors.

Working in partnership with University administrators, faculty, and students, as well as The Magnes staff, The Magnes Museum Foundation, and other stakeholders, the Executive Director will promote and advance The Magnes's mission, embrace the demanding social schedule of a cultural leader, and cultivate partners at home and abroad to better leverage its incomparable assets. The Executive Director is expected to become a familiar and active presence in the greater Bay Area community and on the University campus, as well as respected among international peers. The Executive Director will have the opportunity to explore the collections, develop innovative exhibitions, partnerships, and public programs, and play a key role in advancing the collections' use and appreciation throughout the Bay Area and abroad.


Museum Program

Promote The Magnes broadly and increase its visibility and relevance; make it an accessible, must-see discovery that visitors feel compelled to share.

  • Advance The Magnes as a participant in and contributor to the University's educational mission.
  • Foster synergies and collaborations across campus; develop collaborative working relationships with the faculty, administration, and other key constituents in order to enhance broad-based support for The Magnes.
  • Embrace and engage the campus and East Bay community around culturally-specific as well as universal themes of the Jewish experience; optimize The Magnes's downtown location at the intersection of community and University to fulfill its mission.
  • Support access to the collection through its ongoing registration, preservation, scholarship, publications, website, and other media; explore the potential that digitization affords scholars, students, and families to optimally realize The Magnes mission within a sustainable physical footprint.
  • Support innovative curation for Magnes-originated shows and possible exhibitions that originate elsewhere but fulfill The Magnes mission.
  • Exhibit and support a deep investment in alternative and marginalized perspectives that not only parallel the Jewish experience but traditionally have been excluded from the museum space.
  • Advance diversity in The Magnes's curatorial practice and in its collection, programs, audience, staff, and Board.
  • Explore and develop relationships with other institutions in the Bay Area, including those that would benefit from short- or long-term loans and other collaborations.
  • Cultivate relationships with the international community invested in the excellence and scope of the collection to the enrichment of The Magnes and scholarship.


  • Report to the Dean of Arts and Humanities and work closely with campus partners to advocate for The Magnes.
  • Ensure transparent and regular communication between The Magnes and the University, The Magnes Museum Foundation, funders, and, internally, among staff.
  • Actively develop, oversee, and manage a fiscally responsible budget; strive continuously for greater institutional stability and long-term sustainability.
  • Identify and institute needed infrastructure to streamline efforts, attain goals, and support staff; manage direct reports as well as oversee, motivate, and further develop professional and student staff with a focus on professional development and collaboration.
  • Evaluate and invest in systems, technology, and training where possible to ensure best practices and institutional success and to conserve the collection, as legally obligated.
  • Align whenever possible The Magnes's strategic objectives with those of the University.
  • Serve on appropriate committees of the University and participate in administrative meetings.
  • Explore the return to accreditation for The Magnes to facilitate future programmatic and earned revenue opportunities.

Resource Development

  • Assume responsibility for the financial health and growth of The Magnes by developing sustainable financial strategies to support ongoing and new initiatives.
  • Develop, lead, and oversee an effective in-house development operation while also collaborating closely and transparently with the Division of Arts & Humanities.
  • Serve as the external face of The Magnes to donors and prospects working in partnership with staff and the University's institutional advancement staff; pursue support for operations and programs, new endowments, and capital needs and acquisitions when timely.
  • Cultivate, recruit, steward, and solicit new and existing patrons of The Magnes; clearly communicate expectations and opportunities for patrons and hold them accountable to commitments on The Magnes's behalf.
  • Identify opportunities to raise awareness of and support for The Magnes.
  • Conceive of new earned revenue and fundraising streams including partnerships, programming, boards, committees, and membership support.


The Executive Director will embrace the mission and values of The Magnes and the University and will be or have the following experience and qualifications:

  • An energetic, collaborative, and forward-looking institution builder possessing compelling leadership skills, a taste for challenge, and the strategic ability to take well-considered and tenable risks to attain objectives;
  • Familiarity with museum best practices, especially as they pertain to collections, conservation, programming, and operations;
  • An appetite for and experience in fundraising;
  • Demonstrated effective managerial experience, preferably in a museum environment and with an appreciation of public universities, their missions, and their constraints;
  • Ability to map and work with all members of a large and dynamic campus community;
  • A practiced advocate and community-savvy ambassador who enjoys enlisting the public and the public's investment in a shared mission; eager and able to connect to the Jewish experience in and beyond the Jewish community;
  • Demonstrated understanding of and commitment to the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and social justice with an ability to manifest these values in both exhibitions and operations;
  • Expertise in one or more areas of the mission or collection of The Magnes; access to international networks; ability to identify and enlist partners; and the ability to select, evaluate, pursue, and program works in and relevant to The Magnes mission;
  • Commitment to education at all levels and proficiency in working within and on behalf of an academic context; clear evidence of a collaborative working style;
  • A multitasking self-starter who is able to lead, organize, delegate to, and recruit professional staff;
  • Ability to serve as spokesperson and ambassador for the institution and its programs, with outstanding verbal and written communications skills; a practiced listener and communicator who conveys information readily and often in order to ensure broad investment;
  • A sense of humor and an advanced degree are helpful and strongly preferred.

Applications and nominations are welcome and should be sent to the attention of Sarah James at Magnes@phillipsoppenheim.com.

Please include as part of your application a brief (one- to two-paragraph) statement on your contributions to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in your professional experience.

Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion are fundamental to UC Berkeley's Principles of Community, which states that "every member of the UC Berkeley community has a role in sustaining a safe, caring, and humane environment in which these values can thrive."

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status. For more information about your rights as an applicant see:


For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see: http://policy.ucop.edu/doc/4000376/NondiscrimAffirmAct