Saturday, November 21, 2009

Magnes Goes to U.C. Berkeley

Magnes Collection to U.C. Berkeley | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California

After decades as an independent Berkeley institution, the Judah L. Magnes Museum is currently negotiating with U.C. Berkeley to donate its entire collection to the university some time next year.

Many details about the future of Magnes’ finances, board of trustees, staff and location remain undetermined.

What is certain, however, is that a long-planned move from the Magnes’ stately home on Russell Street in the Elmwood District to a new location in the heart of Berkeley has been scrapped, as Magnes has sold the downtown property at 2222 Harold Way.

The negotiations with U.C. Berkeley coincide with Magnes chief curator, Alla Efimova, being named the museum’s new director. Efimova said the pending U.C. Berkeley deal should prove to be a net plus for the Magnes.

In an interview with j., Efimova said the move would make the collections “accessible to a much broader community of scholars worldwide.”

Magnes board president Frances Dinkelspiel expects the changes to benefit both institutions. “This was more a question of what was in the best interest of the Magnes in the long term,” she said. “We thought having a partnership with U.C. Berkeley was the best way to have the Magnes continue for the next 50 to 100 years.”

Negotiations between the Magnes and U.C. Berkeley are expected to wrap up by year’s end.

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