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Jewish Museum of San Francisco, the

736 Mission Street,
San Francisco, California

Phone: 415.655.7800

Statement of Purpose:

Museum to Create 50,000-square-foot Multi-Faceted Arts Center for Jewish Cultural Programming and Perspective

Expanded Institution to Include Facilities for Major Exhibitions, Adult and Youth Education, and Community-Wide Programs

San Francisco, June 12, 1996 -- The Jewish Museum San Francisco today announced that it has launched a major initiative for expanding the scale, range, and reach of its programming with the selection of Peter Eisenman as the architect for its new facility in the Yerba Buena district of downtown San Francisco. The Jewish Museum, founded twelve years ago to provide a forum for exploring the Jewish contribution to American society and the ongoing evolution of contemporary American Jewish culture, had long outgrown its current space in the downtown Jewish Community Federation building. Creation of the institution's first museum building was stimulated in response to both the growing interest of the Jewish community to explore its own culture and identity in contemporary society, and the need to broaden and enliven the dialogue among all the diverse heritages that form the greater Bay Area community. The new museum is slated for completion in 1999.

Fred Levinson, President of the Jewish Museum comments, "Since its founding in 1984, the Jewish Museum's core mission has been to foster an understanding of Jewish traditions and perspectives within the context of contemporary culture. The diverse programming of the museum is a reflection of core Jewish values of inquiry, dialogue and respect for diversity. The Jewish Museum has played an important ongoing role in the community, and with the expansion program, we are reinventing ourselves as a full-service institution by establishing a level of programming that is commensurate with the public's needs and expectations."

The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency worked closely with the Jewish Museum to identify the historic Jessie Street Substation across from Yerba Buena Gardens as the suitable location for the museum's new building. The new facility will be a multi- dimensional art center offering a broad range of exhibitions, education programs, participatory workshops and public events to all audiences of the Bay Area. Plans at this time include adding additional levels to the 15,000-square-foot Substation to make it 30,000 square feet, and a 20,000-square-foot addition built to the north of the building.

Highlights & Collections:

The Substation, which was formerly used by Pacific Gas and Electric but has been vacant for the past two decades, is centrally located with several other major San Francisco cultural institutions in the newly developed Yerba Buena district, including the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Ansel Adams Center for Photography, the California Historical Society, the Cartoon Art Museum, and the future Mexican Museum. Also within the 12-block area is the Moscone

Exhibits & Special Events:


Current Exhibitions:

Kehinde Wiley | The World Stage: Israel
THROUGH MAY 27, 2013

California Dreaming: Jewish Life in the Bay Area from the Gold Rush to the Present THROUGH APR 28, 2013

Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations ONGOING

Stanley Saitowitz: Judaica ONGOING

StoryCorps Storybooth ONGOING

Linda Steinberg, Director of the Jewish Museum comments, "Because we are not an artifact-based museum, our new building must be one of our primary tools in expressing and creating dialogue about Jewish culture. Rather than build a monument to Jewish history, we are creating a space that is dynamic and vibrant -- something representative of the life of the community itself. The Architect Selection Committee sought an architect with the intellectual ability to help us define the nature of the community itself. Mr. Eisenman has a strong sensitivity to Jewish values and perspectives, and an understanding of the complexities of being a Jew in America today and the impact which museums can have on society. We are confident that he has the vision and experience to translate these principles and issues into the physical form of a building. His concepts matched our own notions of the building as an exuberant, lightfilled structure that will draw in the Jewish and non-Jewish community."

The Jessie Street Substation is an elegant, industrial building designed by Willis Polk in 1905. The design for the new museum will combine a renovation and seismic retrofitting of the Substation and an addition to the north of the existing building. Under the guidance of the Redevelopment Agency, an existing parking lot at the Mission Street entrance to the Substation will be converted into a public plaza to further enhance the connection with the other cultural institutions and public spaces in the Yerba Buena neighborhood. The new museum will include 12,000 to 15,000 square feet for galleries in which to display permanent and special exhibitions; an auditorium; educational spaces; workshops for hands-on arts projects; a library; cafe; bookstore; and art storage and preparation areas.

In the new building, the Jewish Museum will offer a wide range of programming, including exhibitions, films, lectures, performances, and art workshops. The museum's programming, which is both far-reaching and challenging, explores the contemporary relevance of Jewish art and culture. This fall, the Museum will present the exhibition Too Jewish? Challenging Traditional Identities, a provocative contemporary art exhibition that explores the different approaches which postwar Jewish artists have taken to represent their cultural identity. Among the exhibitions the Museum has presented recently are Light Interpretations: A Hanukah Menorah Invitational; Bridges and Boundaries: African Americans and American Jews; and Drawing the Line/The Road to Maus. The Museum also introduced the Intergenerational Program, which brings together seniors and youths for dialogues and collaborative hands-on art projects -- this program has been duplicated in several other cities.

The Jewish Museum San Francisco is in the non-public planning phase of a capital campaign to meet the costs of the construction and to build the institution's endowment. Complete dimensions of the campaign will be announced at a later date.

What is a Kiddush Cup?

The Kiddush cup is a ceremonial-drinking vessel associated with the "Kiddush," a Jewish blessing recited over wine. According to Museum Director Linda Steinberg:

"The Kiddush cup was chosen as the theme of this year's anniversary invitational because of the celebratory nature of the occasion and because the Kiddush blessing plays a significant role in every Jewish holiday and life-cycle event. Thus, the exhibition offers an overview of the traditions which the Museum has been dedicated to keeping vital and meaningfui for the past thirteen years."

The interweaving of the Kiddush blessing throughout Jewish life is a dominant theme throughout the exhibition. The installation is divided into nine sections including the Sabbath, Jewish festivals and life-cycle events, which utilize the Kiddush cup as part of their observance. Also, in connection with the section on the Passover festival, the Museum will feature several "Miriam Cups," which hold water instead of wine. A relatively new addition to the Kiddush cup tradition, these cups highlight the role of women in Jewish history and honor the Biblical Miriam, who accompanied the Jews on their Exodus from Egypt. In recent years, Miriam has become a symbol of life, renewal and spirituality to many contemporary Jewish women.

Historical Context

To provide a context for the contemporary cups, the Museum wiil also present a selection of historical Kiddush cups and rare books on loan from local private collections, museums and synagogues, such as the Elisabeth S. Fine Museum of Congregation Emanuel. Each historical object has a unique story tied to the San Francisco Bay Area. For example, on loan from the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley is the Voorsanger Goblet (Shreve and Co., San Francisco, 1903), which was made as a gift for Rabbi Jacob Voorsanger (1852-1908) of Temple Emanu-EI. This 18-carat gold cup miraculously survived the 1906 earthquake and fire.

By integrating the historical and the contemporary, a strong emphasis is placed on keeping Jewish traditions alive, while at the same time educating our community from generation to generation. The Jewish Museum San Francisco continues its efforts to build bridges between historical times and the present, the Museum and the larger community.

Comments from Participating Artists

This invitational echoes a primary goal of The Jewish Museum - to inspire artists of diverse religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to create new work, which fuses their individual perspectives with themes derived from Jewish history and tradition. For many non-Jewish artists, this was their first introduction to Jewish culture. As Bay Area artist Fabiane Garcia, who also participated in the Museum's 1995 Menorah invitational, writes: "As a Hispanic artist not familiar with many Jewish traditions, the experience was both engaging and educational. Little did I know that by agreeing to take part in the event, I would embark on such a beautiful cultural journey." For many Jewish artists, on the other hand, the invitational provides an opportunity to reconnect with - or perhaps explore for the first time - their roots. As L'Chaim! artist Pamela Dernham Merory reflects: "This half cup represents my personal experience of Jewish identity. Although I had two Jewish grandparents, they were both male. For many people, this means I am simply not Jewish, while for me the reality is more complex. I was not raised in any one religious tradition, but Jewish history is very much a part of my personal history."

The Museum is producing a full color, limited edition catalogue for the invitational, featuring fine art photographs of selected cups by Bay Area photographer Lee Fatheree. All of the contemporary cups displayed in L'Chaim! will be available for purchase, with proceeds to benefit the participating artists and the Museum's ongoing educational programs. As a new facet to the exhibition season, The Jewish Museum San Francisco is initiating a new Docent Program. This program is open to the public. Participants will be asked to attend educational seminars and conduct weekly tours. Also, on December 25, the museum will have its annual "Being Jewish on Christmas" event. This full day of activities is for fun families and peope of all ages.

About the Museum:

Mission Statement: 

The CJM makes the diversity of the Jewish experience relevant for a 21st-century audience.  It accomplishes this through innovative exhibitions and programs that educate, challenge, and inspire.

Organizational Overview:

The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) was founded in 1984 and was housed in a small gallery space near
San Francisco's waterfront for over two decades. During this time, the CJM mounted hundreds of exhibitions and educational programs that were noted for their unique and multilayered interpretations of Jewish culture, art, history, and ideas. In 1989 the CJM initiated a rigorous planning process to address the growing community need and demand for its programs, many of which were at or over capacity. 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. This vision was realized in June 2008, when the CJM opened a new 63,000 square-foot facility in downtown San Francisco. Since then the Museum has established itself as a major cultural landmark and a dynamic center for innovative learning, garnering extensive press and broad financial support, and attracting diverse audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Membership: 6,500

Board of Trustees: 42    

Average Operating Budget: $6.8 million

Annual Attendance: 125,000

Audience Demographics:

The CJM celebrates the diversity of today’s Jewish community, and its audience is interested in discovering the intersection between Jewish thought and tradition and other faiths and cultures. The CJM is proud to attract a diverse audience that is 51% Jewish, 49% broader community. Approximately 70% of the CJM’s visitors are residents of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. The remaining 30% are tourists and/or visitors coming to San Francisco to attend business conferences.  The Museum’s policy of free admission for children and youth and its many family programs and family-friendly exhibitions have attracted a large following of families, which constitutes 15% of overall visitors. Youth (ages 12 to 18) represent another 8% of the audience. Schools, teachers, and community groups represent yet another 20% of the CJM’s audience. The CJM is committed to welcoming these audience members and providing an open and inclusive Jewish experience.


Visitor Information Fact Sheet:

General Information:   
For general information about the Contemporary Jewish Museum and its exhibitions and programs, visit or call 415.655.7800.

Museum hours :
Open daily (except Wednesday): 11 AM–5 PM

Thursday: 1–8 PM


Museum Store :               
Open daily: 11 AM–5 PM
Thursday: 1–8 PM


Admission Fees :            
Adults: $10;
Seniors (65 and older) and students with a valid ID: $8;
Thursdays after 5 PM: $5 for all visitors.
Members and youth 18 and under are always free. 
Groups of 10 or more receive $1 off the individual ticket price.
General admission and special program tickets are sold at the Shenson Welcome Center, located in the Koret-Taube Grand Lobby, and also online at Discounts for programs and events are available to Museum Members.


The following tours are offered regularly:
Architectural Tour
Museum Highlights Tour
Private Tours for adults are $100 plus admission; discounted group admission rates also apply. Groups over 20 people require additional tour guides at $75 each.
School/Youth Tours are $25 for every 20 students; admission fees are waived for students 18 years and under, and up to three chaperones. When available, hands-on art-making workshops offered in conjunction with School Tours are $50 for every 20 students.

For more tour information or to make a reservation, contact: or call 415.655.7856.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) compliant.  All major access points are accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.  Three of the entry doors are electronically operated with ADA push pads at the interior and exterior side of the doors. Wheelchair positions have been reserved in the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Hall when it is used as an auditorium. All levels of the building are accessible by way of elevators.
Restrooms are organized to provide at least one fully compliant accessible stall. Sinks and accessories (soap, towel dispensers, etc) are placed at ADA accessible heights and within reach requirements. 
Room signage and elevator controls have raised Braille text. Stairs have contrasting vision strips to indicate top and bottom treads of the stairs. Signage text falls within ADA parameters for size and contrast to enhance readability.


Coat Check:

Free; located in the Koret-Taube Grand Lobby, near the main entrance.
Facility Rentals:
The Contemporary Jewish Museum is available to rent for private use. Please contact Rachel Petru, facilities rental and event manager, for more information at or 415.655.7830

Museum Store:
The Museum Store, located on the main level of the building, has entrances through the Museum’s Koret-Taube Grand Lobby and directly off Yerba Buena Lane. Museum admission is not required to visit and shop in the Museum Store.
Open 7 days a week. 11 AM-5:30 PM; Thursday 11 AM-8 PM

The Museum Store offers visitors a unique mix of products that support the Museum’s mission, and provide visitors with additional resources to enhance their museum experience.  Products include contemporary Judaica that celebrate important milestones in Jewish life, exhibition-inspired merchandise, scholarly and popular publications for a range of ages, jewelry, gifts, and toys.  All proceeds support the Museum’s exhibitions and educational programs.

Cafe on the Square:
In August 2010, the existing cafe closed, and the Museum issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to secure a new vendor to operate the cafe on the ground floor of our Daniel Libeskind-designed building. The CJM is currently reviewing proposals.

Public Transit:

The Contemporary Jewish Museum is accessible via BART and  MUNI Metro lines, J, K, L, M, N, and T, which stop at the Powell and Montgomery Street stations on Market Street.
MUNI Bus Lines 5, 6, 7, 9, 16, 21, 31, 38, and 71 also stop on Market Street between Fifth Street and New Montgomery. The 14 and the 14L stop on Mission Street at Third Street. In addition, the Museum is accessible via Caltrain with transfer to MUNI Metro N or T, which stop at the Powell or Montgomery Street stations.
Golden Gate Transit lines 70, 73, and 80 stop at Mission and Third streets in front of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which is located directly across from the Contemporary Jewish Museum.


SamTrans Buses arrive/depart from Transbay Terminal at First and Mission streets.

Directions by Car: From the East Bay Cross the Bay Bridge and take the Fremont Street exit. Turn left on Fremont and left again on Mission Street.


From Marin - Cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Exit at Lombard Street. Turn right onto Van Ness Avenue; Turn left onto Grove Street. Veer right as you cross Market Street onto 8th Street. Turn left on Folsom Street. Turn left on 3rd Street. Turn left on Mission Street.

From the Peninsula -Take route 101 North to San Francisco. Keep right to take I 80 E via Exit 433B toward Oakland (signs for Oakland, I80, Bay Bridge, 7th Street, US101N). Take the Fourth Street exit – Exit 2. Take a slight left on Bryant. Turn left at Third Street. Turn left on Mission Street.


                                      Jessie Square Garage

                                                (415) 978-9634
223 Stevenson Street.

(take a left off of Third Street onto Stevenson Street)


Fifth & Mission Yerba Buena Garage
(415) 982-8522 x18

833 Mission Street
(between Fourth & Fifth streets)


Moscone Center Garage

(415) 777-2782

255 Third Street
(between Clementina & Tehama streets)


Hearst Parking Center

(415) 989-4000

45 Third Street

(between Mission and Market streets)


The Museum does not validate parking. Please contact garages for rates.

About the Contemporary Jewish Museum:

With the opening of its new building in 2008, the CJM ushered in a new chapter in its 20-plus year history of engaging audiences and artists in exploring contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. The new facility, designed by internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, is a lively center where people of all ages and backgrounds  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 21st century.

Major support for the Contemporary Jewish Museum comes from the Koret and Taube Foundations, who are the lead supporters of the 2010/11 exhibition season. Additional major support is provided by the Jim Joseph Foundation; The Wallace Foundation; Bank of America; Institute of Museum and Library Services; Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund; Walter and Elise Haas Fund; The Hearst Foundations; Terra Foundation for American Art; The Skirball Foundation; Target; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; and Alexander M. and June L. Maisin Foundation. The Museum also receives major support from the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.

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

Sources of Funding:

The CJM is a privately funded, 501 (c) 3, supported by individual, foundation, government, and corporate sources. Major support for the Contemporary Jewish Museum comes from the Koret and Taube Foundations, who are the lead supporters of the 2010/11 exhibition season. Additional major support is provided by the Jim Joseph Foundation; The Wallace

Foundation; Bank of America; Institute of Museum and Library Services; Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund; Walter and Elise Haas Fund; The Hearst Foundations; Terra Foundation for American Art; The Skirball Foundation; Target; and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. The Museum also receives major support from the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. Additional revenue comes from admissions, the CJM’s Museum Shop, and investment income, including a $20 Million-plus endowment.

Website:      Social Media: |




Key Personnel:

Rabbi Brian L. Lurie, C. E. O.

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