Thursday, June 26, 2008


Magnes Museum Moves Ahead With Relocation Plans
By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday June 30, 2008
The Judah L. Magnes Museum will ask the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission Thursday to approve a structural alteration permit to rehabilitate the landmarked Armstrong College at 2222 Harold Way, where it plans to relocate in spring 2010.

Armstrong College was designated as a City of Berkeley landmark in September 1994 and notable structures include large arched windows located on the second floor of the Kittredge Street and Harold facades, entrance and main lobbies, a 5,000-square-foot auditorium, and an entrance sheltered by a Baroque-style balcony.

The museum which is the Bay Area's oldest museum and archive dedicated to Jewish history, is proposing some changes to the former business educational school's exterior, including altering two windows on either side of the Kittredge Street entrance and replacing the wooden door with glass.

The Magnes hopes to raise $36 million through a rehabilitation campaign, of which $14 million will be a permanent endowment for museum programs, museum spokesperson James Leventhal told the Planet Monday.

The Harold Way building was originally known as the Armstrong School of Business, and many Berkeley old-timers can still remember taking typing lessons there.

It forms an integral part of a three-square-block cluster of significant buildings, including the U.S. Post Office, Elks Club, the Shattuck Hotel, YMCA, and the Berkeley Public Library.

The Berkeley Municipal Code requires the landmarks commission to review any exterior modifications to a landmark structure.

The non-profit Jewish museum bought the 1924 Walter H. Ratcliff-designed Spanish-Colonial Revival style building last year from Armstrong Properties Inc., and has plans to turn it into a world-class museum. Former occupants include UC Berkeley Extension's International Center, whose lease ran from 1996 to 2006.

The museum, now located in a historic mansion at 2911 Russell St., has hired Mark Hulbert of Oakland-based Preservation Architecture to rehabilitate the college building.

Of all the interior changes to the building, only one will be visible from the exterior, a report to the commission from the landmarks commission staff states. In order to use portions of the building as gallery space, the windows to the galleries have to be backfilled from the interior. The report says that the only windows that will be affected by this are the four on the first floor to the west of the proposed loading entrance off of Kittredge Street.

The museum's website informs visitors the new facility is “envisioned as a space that combines display and research, looking and learning, contemplation and discussion ... In the spirit of the museum's founders, yet with new technological possibilities, the Magnes will continue to offer public access to unique resources that let every generation find their own story in the texts, images, and sounds of the Jewish past and present.”

The museum's collection is considered to be the third largest of its kind in the country.

The LPC will also review a preliminary proposal by Wareham Development to demolish the landmarked Copra Warehouse (Durkee Famous Foods), at 740 Heinz Ave., to construct a four-story research and laboratory space. Wareham will return with an official application concerning the property at a later date.

The LPC will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

JTA and me

JTA is a national Jewish news service.

In 1917, during the waning days of World War I, a 25-year-old journalist named Jacob Landau had a vision...And so, Landau founded the Jewish Correspondence Bureau, later renamed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

JTA recently started a blog on philanthropy. It's a nice resource...

And in a recent article distributed by JTA about the opening of the Contemporary Jewish Museum, I was quoted:

Another defining characteristic is that the museum will maintain no permanent collection, but will host temporary and traveling exhibitions.

That’s partly due to its proximity to Berkeley’s Judah L. Magnes Museum, which owns the country’s third largest Judaica collection. The two institutions are still smarting from an abortive merger effort that collapsed several years ago, and are eager not to step on each other’s toes.

In fact, one of the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s opening exhibits is on loan from the Magnes, highlighting what both institutions envision as a close ongoing cooperation.

“They’re doing something totally wonderful and unique,” says James Leventhal, the development director at the Magnes. “They are carving out new ground..."

It showed up in all the national Jewish Newspapers -- even in my hometown of Baltimore! (Well, actually, I didn't grow up in Baltimore...I grew up in Columbia...still, I liked seein' it.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

life in extremez

WHAT A GREAT DAY! Tom came over around nine and played with li'l E, wearing him down with joy and delight -- trains and cars. We didn't leave Oakland until about ten-thirty o'clock.

Li'l E was already on his way to napping. Then a long drive, so he is all the more tuckered out. THEN we get to Pixieland, so by then my little boy E is on the brink of sleep, like Little Nemo with visions of Slumberland, but his slumberland is real -- it is Pixieland.

Between rides he cries for the next one -- out of character and part of the wonderous delirium of joy....sheer ec·sta·sy.

And y'know what -- it wasn't so much Pixieland. Pixieland ain't much bigger than most large mall parking lots. It was about us, then, today.

Can it, people. Put it in a jar. Let more people feel better.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

FW: 2 Djerassi

MAGNES might be doin' Djerassi. We're talking about a collaboration w/Jewlia Eisenberg, possibly with support from the Creative Works Fund-a highly competitive grant program. Rock on, people, rock on!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

MAGNES Tent...

...looking good at Israel in the Gardens, S.F. -- the major, yearly Bay Area outdoor Jewish festival in downtown San Francisco. Over 500 MAGNES bags were distributed, I hear...

Lil E's Tryin' a Hand at School

Lil E starts at the synagogue preschool in the fall. He went to a meet-and-greet picnic today at a local park with a playground. Highlights included:

I was pushing him in the swing. Another Dad came along with his daughter and they started using the swing beside us. After a little time, we introduced ourselves and the one dad said his name was ______. And Lil E, right in time said, "Dad: Jim. Mommy: Karen," as if he was handling the introductions. And not "as if," he was. What a trip!

Then he met these two boys and couldn't get their names out of his head and went all over looking for "J" and "S." Then he'd go play with them.

Oh there was more...but lastly, we're on the way back, walking to the car and he reaches forward to grab the hand of the little girl we were walking out with. (Picture above.)

This kid's alright and he's ready, right? And he ain't even two yet. Go, E! Go, my Lil E...