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Press Release

The Contemporary Jewish Museum Names Chad Coerver Executive Director

Coerver Brings More than Two Decades of Experience in Community Engagement and Building Museum Audiences to The CJM

Head shot of Chad Coerver wearing a dark blue blazer and round glasses.

Photo: Gary Sexton Photography

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 (San Francisco, CA) — The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) today announced that Chad Coerver has been named Executive Director. Coerver currently serves as the Chief Education and Community Engagement Officer at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), where he developed a creative and human-centered approach to expanding audiences, enhancing the visitor experience, and increasing access to the museum. Coerver will begin in his new role at The CJM on September 1, 2021.

“Museums must evolve to reach audiences where they are — this has become ever more clear in the last 18 months. In his role at SFMOMA, Chad Coerver has demonstrated tremendous success in engaging new audiences in new ways,” said Joyce Linker, Chair of The CJM’s Board of Trustees. “We are thrilled that Chad will lead The CJM, and we look forward to seeing where his novel approach to museum leadership and his appetite for experimentation and big ideas take our institution in the coming years.” 

Throughout his career, Chad Coerver has spearheaded new museum experiences and engagement strategies that inspire audiences and advance the field. In his current role as Leanne and George Roberts Chief Education and Community Engagement Officer at SFMOMA, a position created for him in 2019, he is responsible for overseeing in-person and digital programs that deepen engagement for diverse audiences of adults, families, and youth; creating opportunities for lifelong learning that serve a multiplicity of learning styles and audiences; and building meaningful partnerships with artists and community organizations such as the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). A member of the museum’s executive leadership team and an experienced changemaker within the organization, Coerver has founded and led large-scale initiatives around audience research, public space, social justice, accessibility, and more.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as Executive Director of The Contemporary Jewish Museum,” said Chad Coerver. “The CJM has always been known for the kind of dynamic exhibitions and programs that truly excite me about working in the museum field today — programs that spark dialogue, create opportunities for shared experiences through art, and lead to deeper engagement with our audiences. I look forward to working with The CJM team to build on its past success in creating meaningful opportunities for audiences to engage with art and Jewish culture as we move into The Museum’s next chapter.”

In the course of his 20-year tenure at SFMOMA, Coerver served the museum in a number of capacities, gradually moving from a focus on scholarship toward experience design. As Chief Content Officer (2013–2019), he led a creative team of content producers, technologists, editors, and designers in crafting the museum’s engagement strategies across web and digital platforms, interpretive media, and publications. He has also served as the museum’s Director of Publications, Graphic Design and Web from 2002–2012, and as Managing Editor from 1999–2002.  

Throughout his time Coerver empowered staff and partnered with museum colleagues to develop an array of high-profile projects for SFMOMA, including collaborations with Adobe, frog design, and Second Story to produce new digital experiences for the expanded museum; the creation of online research hubs around artist Robert Rauschenberg, contemporary Japanese Photography, and mural-making in San Francisco’s Mission District; the launch of Send Me SFMOMA, the museum’s enormously popular textbot allowing users to access, via texted keywords or emojis, thousands of works from the museum’s collection; and the Magritte Interpretive Gallery, which encouraged visitors to immerse themselves in the surrealist world of René Magritte. During pandemic closure, Coerver's team collaborated with SFUSD to distribute art-making kits to thousands of San Francisco students. These efforts have garnered a wide variety of awards and other forms of recognition from the American Association of Museums, the GLAMi Awards, Fast Company, Communication Arts, and more.

“We enthusiastically welcome Chad to The CJM. He develops creative and strategic partnerships, ranging from tech organizations to neighborhood groups. Chad embraces the opportunity to foster community dialogue around challenging issues, and he is not afraid to bring a spirit of playfulness into The Museum,” said Tom Kasten, member of The CJM’s Board and Chair of the Search Committee. “His willingness to challenge conventional museum practice is what makes him the right leader at the right time for The CJM.” 

Lecturing frequently on strategy and organizational change, Coerver has appeared at the Association of Art Museum Directors, Museum Computer Network, College Art Association, and South by Southwest (SXSW) conferences. Additionally, he has lectured on museums and art history at Stanford University, John F. Kennedy University and Washington University in St. Louis. Coerver is a specialist in the history of renaissance art and holds a Masters of Philosophy in art history from Yale University and a BA in art history from Duke University.

Coerver resides in Oakland with his wife, Karen (Ren) Fiss. They have two children.

About The Contemporary Jewish Museum

For over thirty years The CJM has engaged audiences and artists in exploring contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. In 2008 The Museum opened a new building designed by internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, providing a lively center where people of all ages and backgrounds can gather to experience art, share diverse perspectives, and engage in educational 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 is generously provided by Craig Newmark Philanthropies; Bank of America; The Covenant Foundation; Suzanne and Elliott Felson; Grants for the Arts; Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund; Jim Joseph Foundation; Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt; Joyce B. Linker; Alexandra O. Moses; The Bernard Osher Foundation; John Pritzker Family Fund; Dorothy R. Saxe; Seiger Family Foundation; Ruth S. Stein; and Roselyne C. Swig.

Major support for The CJM Helen Diller Institute is generously provided by The Helen Diller Family Foundation.

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