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The Contemporary Jewish Museum Celebrates Ten Years in its Daniel Libeskind-designed Building on Jessie Square

Events include a Community Free Day, a special Gala event, and a host of special exhibitions

Illuminate Gala: Saturday, June 9, 2018; 6pm–1am
Free Community Day: June 10, 2018; 11am–5pm

(San Francisco, CA, May 2, 2018) Ten years ago this June, The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) wowed the world with the opening of its dazzling new Daniel Libeskind-designed home in the heart of downtown San Francisco. The dramatic reuse of a PG&E power substation by the renowned architect, with its luminous blue steel geometry inspired by the Hebrew phrase L’Chaim (To Life), was hailed as an instantly iconic addition to the San Francisco cityscape.

In the ten years since its June 8, 2008 opening on Jessie Square, The CJM has actively pursued its mission to make the diversity of the Jewish experience relevant for a twenty-first century audience through more than 70 original and traveling exhibitions, a huge variety of education programs for all ages and abilities, multiple publications, and robust online engagement. The Museum has welcomed more than 1.2 million visitors through its doors in the last ten years, with nearly 20,000 attending annually through school, teacher, youth, and family programs.

“We have come a long way since our humble beginnings in a modest space within the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco on Steuart St. back in 1984,” says Lori Starr, Executive Director, The CJM. “Our growth and expansion over the decades is a testament to the many generations of founders and community leaders who have held fast to the vision of a museum where diverse audiences can engage with new perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. Ten years ago, we moved into a home that, on so many levels, expresses who we are. Its combination of new and old elements reminds us that contemporary life is rooted in tradition. Libeskind’s symbolic additions parallel the progressive and inclusive nature of Bay Area Jewish history. And its origin as a power substation encourages us always to be a generator of new Jewish culture and engagement.”

A non-collecting museum, The CJM has distinguished itself by bringing exhibitions to the Bay Area that might not otherwise come to the area including such popular past shows as Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs; Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait, and Roman Vishniac Rediscovered. It has also originated, and in some cases traveled, exhibitions that bring to light Jewish ideas and people in new ways such as Designing Home: Midcentury Modern Jewish Artists, 1930–1970; Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories; Arthur Szyk and the Art of the Haggadah; and From Generation to Generation: Inherited Memory and Contemporary Art. And, importantly, it has invited artists of all backgrounds to engage with Jewish ideas through exhibitions such as Jewish Folktales Retold: Artist as Maggid; its ongoing series of Invitationals such as the recent Sabbath: The 2017 Dorothy Saxe Invitational; and its first exhibition in the new building, In the Beginning: Artists Respond to Genesis.

These many exhibitions are the inspiration for The CJM’s year-long public programming, providing the central focus for public and school tours, educational workshops and gallery talks, family activities, events for young adults working downtown like Night at the Jewseum, its trailblazing Access programs that are designed to welcome audiences of diverse abilities, its teen programs and internships, and its work with local and national university students. The recently opened Helen Diller Institute provides a new space for visiting scholars and artists to engage in research, prototyping, training, and exchange of ideas.

The Museum celebrates this ten-year milestone with two June events:

Illuminate: Celebrating The CJM’s Ten Years on Jessie Square

Saturday, June 9, 2018; 6pm–1am

This elegant gala celebrates ten years in the historic Jessie Street PG&E Power Substation, re-envisioned in 2008 by renowned architect, Daniel Libeskind. The event, co-chaired by Suzanne and Elliott Felson and Jennifer and Tony Smorgon, highlights the award-winning building and work of The Museum and features unique programs and performances. The Museum will pay tribute to its Founders for their leadership in building this incredible community resource for generations now and in years to come including Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt, Phyllis Moldaw, Roselyne Chroman Swig, and Anita and Ronald Wornick. McCalls Catering & Events curates a menu of gourmet cuisine for guests.

Later that evening, The CJM illuminates Jessie Square with a late-night party celebrating ten years. Guests will enjoy dancing, beats by DJ King Most, an open bar by SKKY Vodka, a piano bar and lounge, entertainment featuring San Francisco Belly Dance Theater, and noshes, from 9pm to 1am.

Thanks to the generosity of lead sponsors: Phyllis Moldaw, Christine Russell and Mark Schlesinger, Roselyne Chroman Swig, Suzanne and Elliott Felson, Nellie and Max Levchin, Millennium Partners, Northern Trust, Dorothy Saxe, Jennifer and Tony Smorgon, and Anita and Ronald Wornick.

Ten Year Anniversary Community Free Day

Sunday, June 10, 2018; 11am–5pm

The Museum celebrates community with a free day of live music, gallery performances, art-making, and more. Activities take place throughout the day. Visitors can enjoy special mini tours every 15 minutes between 11:30am and 1:30pm by longtime docents with insights into favorite works of art or architectural elements of the building. Local poets take over the galleries from 2:30 to 4pm to share poetry in conversation with the art on view. Musicians and dancers bring the architecture to life throughout the day including Benny Brussel on violin, Angus Martin on accordion, and AXIS Dance Company. Families will find a wide array of hands-on art activities throughout The Museum that build connections to family, friends, and personal heritage.

Members of The CJM enjoy a special Member Lounge with treats and activities.

Support for Ten Year Anniversary Community Free Day is generously provided by the Koret Foundation, Millennium Partners, Yerba Buena Community Benefit District, Bank of America, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo.

The Museum’s year-long roster of Tenth Anniversary exhibitions continues with these select shows:

The Art of Rube Goldberg

Now through July 8

The Art of Rube Goldberg explores the career of Rube Goldberg (1883–1970), one of the most celebrated and influential cartoonists of all time. Marking the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of Goldberg’s work since 1970 and making its only California appearance at The CJM, the exhibition brings together never-before-exhibited original drawings and preparatory sketches alongside rare photographs, films, letters, and memorabilia from the Goldberg family archives. The Art of Rube Goldberg chronicles all aspects of the artist’s seventy-two-year career, from his earliest published drawings and iconic inventions to his Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoons and beyond. Developed in cooperation with Heirs of Rube Goldberg, LLC, New York, New York, the tour was organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.

Contraption: Rediscovering California Jewish Artists

Now through July 29

Contraption: Rediscovering California Jewish Artists presents the work of sixteen artists of Jewish descent who have lived in California over the last 150 years—living and not, well known and under recognized. Among the hundreds of Jewish artists who have called the Golden State home, a surprisingly significant number were inspired by the notion of the machine, especially the improvised do-it-yourself machine. The exhibition examines more closely the work of several of these, including Judith Belzer, Carol Bernard, Edward Biberman, Boris Deutsch, Miriam Dym, Bella Feldman, Howard Fried, Rube Goldberg, John Gutmann, Bruce Handelsman, Ned Kahn, Richard Kamler, Bernie Lubell, Irving Norman, Annabeth Rosen, and Sheri Simons. Organized by Chief Curator Renny Pritikin and guest curator Mark Dean Johnson, Professor of Art at San Francisco State University, in association with the Fine Arts and Jewish Studies Departments of San Francisco State University.

Lew the Jew and His Circle: Origins of American Tattoo

July 26–December 2, 2018

In a new, original exhibition, The Museum examines the work of “Lew the Jew” Alberts (born Albert Morton Kurzman, 1880–1954), one of America’s most influential tattoo artists at the beginning of the twentieth century. The exhibition, drawn from the collection of San Francisco artist, author, and tattoo legend Don Ed Hardy, includes never before exhibited original tattoo artwork, photographs, and correspondence between Lew and San Francisco tattooists “Brooklyn Joe” Lieber and C.J. “Pop” Eddy.

Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

August 30, 2018–January 6, 2019

In the first comprehensive US exhibition drawn from the Israel Museum’s world-renowned collection of Jewish costumes, more than 100 articles of clothing from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries are showcased, arranged as complete ensembles or shown as stand-alone items. A sumptuous array of apparel from over twenty countries on four continents offers an exceptional opportunity for American audiences to view many facets of Jewish identity and culture through rarely seen garments.

The extraordinary range of textile designs and clothing illuminates the story of how diverse global cultures have thrived, interacted, and inspired each other for centuries. Jewish communities from Afghanistan, Algeria, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, Georgia, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Israel, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States, Uzbekistan, and Yemen are represented.

A spectacular selection from the collection of the Israel Museum, this exhibition was developed jointly between The Contemporary Jewish Museum and The Jewish Museum in New York, which will be the only two venues for it.

About The Contemporary Jewish Museum

With the opening of its new building on June 8, 2008, The Contemporary Jewish Museum ushered in a new chapter in its twenty-plus year history of engaging audiences and artists in exploring contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. The facility, designed by internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, is a lively center where people of all ages and backgrounds can gather to experience art, share diverse perspectives, and engage in hands-on activities. Inspired by the Hebrew phrase L’Chaim (To Life), the building is a physical embodiment of The CJM’s mission to bring together tradition and innovation in an exploration of the Jewish experience in the twenty-first century.

Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation. The Museum also thanks the Jim Joseph Foundation for its major support of innovative strategies for educating and engaging audiences in Jewish learning. Additional major support is provided by two Anonymous donors; Alyse and Nathan Mason Brill; Carbon Five; Gaia Fund; the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; Grants for the Arts; Walter and Elise Haas Fund; Suzanne and Elliott Felson; Wendy Kesser; Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt; Nellie and Max Levchin; Millennium Partners, the Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund; The Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund; Dorothy R. Saxe; Seiger Family Foundation; Taube Philanthropies for Jewish Life and Culture; and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Thank you to the Helen Diller Family Foundation for their support of the Helen Diller Institute at The Contemporary Jewish Museum.

For more information about The Contemporary Jewish Museum, visit The Museum’s website at

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General Information

The Museum is open daily (except Wednesday) 11am–5pm and Thursday, 11am–8pm. Museum admission is $14 for adults, $12 for students and senior citizens with a valid ID, and $5 on Thursdays after 5pm. Youth 18 and under always get in free. For general information on The Contemporary Jewish Museum, the public may visit The Museum’s website at or call 415.655.7800. The Contemporary Jewish Museum is located at 736 Mission Street (between Third & Fourth streets), San Francisco.

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