Memory Objects: Judaica Collections, Global Migrations

Exhibit - Artifacts | February 26 – June 28, 2019 every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday | 11 a.m.-4 p.m. |  Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (2121 Allston Way)

 Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

The First World War (1914-1918) uprooted millions across Europe, and beyond. Many Jews left Eastern and Southern Europe, bringing with them prized personal and communal belongings. In an attempt to rescue precious heritage from imminent destruction, these “memory objects” often ended up with museums, collectors, and art dealers in the West.

Siegfried S. Strauss (1893-1969) began collecting Jewish objects in Germany in 1913, and continued through the rise of the Nazi regime, whose anti-Semitic policies forced Jewish collectors to find temporary shelters for their possessions. Before he was interned in Buchenwald in 1938, Strauss secured safe passage for his collection, moving it to England. Once released, he followed it there, and later brought it to the United States, first to New York, and later to Los Angeles.

In 1968, The Magnes acquired more than four hundred ritual objects, books, and manuscripts from the Siegfried S. Strauss collection, as well as a detailed inventory, which reflected Strauss’s knowledge of the materials (excerpts of this original inventory are included in the exhibition texts). These objects comprise the foundational Judaica holdings of The Magnes.

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