Francesco Spagnolo

Curator and Professor in Berkeley, California

Francesco Spagnolo

Curator and Professor in Berkeley, California

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I am a multidisciplinary scholar focusing on music, digital media, and diaspora studies, as well as a creator and presenter of global cultural content, through books, articles, sound recordings, lectures, performances, exhibitions, and broadcasts.

I studied music at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory of Milan, philosophy at the University of Milan and at the EHESS in Paris, and musicology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (PhD 2007).

I have worked at the University of California, Berkeley since 2010, as the founding Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, and as an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Music and the Center for Jewish Studies. I am also a Scholar-in-Residence with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco. Prior to moving to the US, I was an anchor for Italian National Radio (RAI) in Rome, broadcasting daily to millions of listeners nationwide. During the Second Intifada, I reported weekly to Rome from Jerusalem. In 2021, I worked closely with White House Staff to select a museum object for display in the official residence of the Vice President of the United States (CNN).

Intersecting textual, visual, and musical cultures, I contribute to academic and cultural heritage institutions, live media and electronic platforms, in Europe, Israel, and the United States. I am frequently invited to present at universities, museums, and concert halls worldwide, publish on topics ranging from music to philosophy, film, and literature, and curate exhibitions, live performances, and digital programs.


As a scholar, I focus on diasporas and cultural mobility. My research covers the intersections of music and material culture, with particular attention to cultural production in the Italian Jewish ghettos. In 2002, the Hebrew University and the National Music Academy, Rome jointly published “Italian Jewish Musical Traditions.”

As a curator, I create connections where others do not see them. My focus is on performance, material culture, identity, and the arts, across time, place, and media. In 2014, Rizzoli-Skirà published “The Jewish World;” my exhibition, “In Real Times,” is traveling to national and international museum venues.

My scholarly and curatorial pursuits meet in asking a variety of questions about the nature of knowledge “in transit,” and of museums, archives, and sites of worship (including their respective "rituals") as communal institutions shaping what culture means in the modern world.


  • Work
    • Curator & Professor
  • Education
    • The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    • Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales
    • Università degli Studi di Milano
    • Conservatorio di Musica G. Verdi Milano