World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Contemporary Jewish Museum

Article Id: WHEBN0011888195
Reproduction Date:

Title: Contemporary Jewish Museum  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Museum of the African Diaspora, Precita Eyes, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, National Register of Historic Places listings in San Francisco, California, Deconstructivism
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Contemporary Jewish Museum

The Contemporary Jewish Museum
Contemporary Jewish Museum is located in San Francisco County
Contemporary Jewish Museum
Location within San Francisco
Established 1984 (1984)
Location 736 Mission Street, San Francisco, California, United States
Director Lori Starr
Public transit access                     Powell Street Station
Website .org.thecjmwww

The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) was founded in 1984 in San Francisco, California. Its current mission is to make the diversity of the Jewish experience relevant for a twenty-first century audience through exhibitions and educational programs.[1]


The Contemporary Jewish Museum was founded in 1984 and was housed in a small gallery space near San Francisco's waterfront for over two decades. In 1989, the museum initiated a planning process to address the growing community need for its programs. The result was the decision to create a more expansive and centrally located facility with increased exhibitions, an area dedicated to education, and added program areas including live music, theater, dance, literary events, and film. In June 2008, the museum opened a new 63,000 square-foot facility in downtown San Francisco.


The museum has no permanent collection. It curates and hosts a broad array of exhibitions each year. Since reopening in its new building in 2008, exhibitions have included:

  • Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism
  • Arthur Szyk and Art of the Hagaddah
  • Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations
  • Frog and Toad and the World of Arnold Lobel
  • To Build and Be Built: Kibbutz History
  • Work in Progress: Considering Utopia
  • Jason Lazarus: Live Archive
  • Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg
  • Beyond Belief: 100 Years of the Spiritual in Modern Art
  • Kehinde Wiley | The World Stage: Israel
  • The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats
  • California Dreaming: Jewish Life in the Bay Area from the Gold Rush to the Present
  • Stanley Saitowitz: Judaica
  • The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League, 1936–1951
  • Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art, and Jewish Thought
  • Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories
  • Houdini: Art and Magic
  • Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theatre?
  • Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H. A. Rey
  • Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker
  • Reinventing Ritual: Contemporary Art and Design for Jewish Life
  • Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World)
  • Our Struggle: Responding to Mein Kampf
  • Susan Hiller: The J.Street Project
  • There's a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak
  • Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater, 1919-1949
  • Jews on Vinyl
  • John Zorn Presents the Aleph-Bet Sound Project
  • Warhol's Jews: Ten Portraits Reconsidered
  • From The New Yorker to Shrek: The Art of William Steig
  • In the Beginning: Artists Respond to Genesis


The museum’s education programs include public tours, classes and workshops, film screenings, lectures and gallery talks, performances, teacher training, school visits, family tours and art making, and a teen internship program.


Daniel Libeskind designed the 63,000 square foot (5,900 square meter) museum, which occupies and extends the 1907 Jessie Street Power Substation, originally designed by Willis Polk. The building was completed in 2008. The museum cost $47.5 million to build. [2]


Interior view of the "Yud."

The museum’s tilted, dark-blue stainless steel cube, constructed by A. Zahner Company, slices into the old substation’s brick, making visible the relationship between the new and the old. Libeskind’s design preserves the defining features of Polk’s old building, including its brick façade, trusses, and skylights. 36 diamond-shaped windows light the top floor of the metal cube, known as the Yud, which hosts sound and performance based exhibitions. The museum’s other section, a slanting rectangle known as the Chet, holds the narrow lobby, an education center, and part of an upstairs gallery.

Similar to Libeskind’s Danish Jewish Museum in Copenhagen, the Contemporary Jewish Museum incorporates text into its design. Inspired by the phrase “L’Chaim,” meaning “To Life,” Libeskind let the Hebrew letters that spell “chai” —“chet” and “yud,” inspire the form of the building. The Hebrew word pardes, meaning “orchard,” is embedded in the wall of the lobby.

The building also houses a multi-purpose event space, an auditorium, Wise Sons Deli, and a museum store. [3]


Critics, such as Christopher Hawthorne of the Los Angeles Times, praise Libeskind for a “careful balance of explosive and well-behaved forms” and gallery designs that abandon the architect’s characteristic slanted walls. Likewise, David D’Arcy of the Wall Street Journal sees the museum as a laudable departure from Libeskind’s previous work. He finds a “lightness to this [museum] that is rare in the architect’s work” and that “relieves the surrounding district’s glass and steel tourist-mall monotony.” [4]


Former Whitney Museum curator Connie Wolf was the museum’s director from 1999 to 2012. Lori Starr, former executive director of the Koffler Centre of the Arts (Toronto, CN), was appointed the museum's director in 2013.[5] In 2014, the museum hired Renny Pritikin as Chief Curator. [6]

See also


  1. ^ Contemporary Jewish Museum. "History and Mission". Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  2. ^ Los Angeles Times. "Slash and yearn". Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  3. ^ San Francisco Chronicle. "Deli to open in Contemporary Jewish Museum". Retrieved 2013-06-04. 
  4. ^ Los Angeles Times. "Slash and yearn". Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  5. ^ Art Daily. "Lori Starr appointed Executive Director of San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum". Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  6. ^ Artinfo. "SF’s Jewish Museum Names New Chief Curator". Retrieved 2014-04-29. 

External links

  • Official site
  • San Francisco Chronicle article about new facility
  • Los Angeles Times article about the groundbreaking
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.