This study investigates experimentally and numerically the response of a magnetorheological elastomer (MRE) layer placed atop an electromagnetic coil. The MRE layer is deflected upon application of a current in the coil, which creates highly nonuniform magnetic fields. Isotropic and transversely isotropic layers (i.e., containing chains of magnetic particles) are tested experimentally, and the isotropic layer exhibits the largest deflection. To enhance the energetic efficiency of the model device, an iron core is introduced inside the electromagnetic coil, thereby leading to an increase in the resulting magnetic field near the center of the MRE layer. In parallel, the boundary value problem —including the MRE layer, the coil, the core (if present) and the surrounding air—is modeled numerically. For this, a magneto-mechanical, vector potential-based variational formulation is implemented in a standard three-dimensional finite element model at finite strains. For the material description, a recently proposed analytical homogenization-guided model is used to analyze the MRE in the “coil-only” configuration. It is then employed to predict the response of the layer in the “coil plus core” configuration, thus circumventing the need for a separate material characterization procedure. The proposed numerical simulation strategy provides a deeper understanding of the underlying complexity of the magnetic fields and of their interaction with the MRE layer. This study also reveals the importance of modeling the entire setup for predicting the response of MRE materials and, as a result, constitutes a step toward designing more efficient MRE-based devices.