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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.
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
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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.
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.
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.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) was founded in 1984 and was housed in a small gallery space near
Board of Trustees: 42
Average Operating Budget: $6.8 million
Annual Attendance: 125,000
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
Museum Store :
Admission Fees :
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.
223 Stevenson Street.
(take a left off of Third Street onto Stevenson Street)
& Mission Yerba Buena Garage
(415) 982-8522 x18
(between Fourth & Fifth streets)
Moscone Center Garage
(between Clementina & Tehama streets)
Hearst Parking Center
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 thecjm.org
Website: thecjm.org Social Media: Facebook.com/thecjm | Twitter.com/jewseum
Rabbi Brian L. Lurie, C. E. O.
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