Contemporary Jewish Museum

736 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103


History and Mission:

Since its founding in 1984, the Contemporary Jewish Museum has presented more then 80 exhibitions and hundreds of programs exploring the Jewish spirit and imagination. As early as 1990, the Contemporary Jewish Museum recognized the urgency for a more expansive facility to meet the needs and interests of the communities we serve. And we could not have hoped for a better building opportunity, both physically and conceptually, than when the city of San Francisco agreed to allow the Contemporary Jewish Museum to develop the historic Jessie Street Substation, a 1907 landmark designed by Willis Polk.

The new Contemporary Jewish Museum has been envisioned as a dynamic and welcoming space where people of all backgrounds can come together to engage in the extraordinarily diverse dialogues of Jewish expression. It has been planned to be a place to experience art, music, film, literature, debate, and - most importantly - other people. Daniel Libeskind's design for the Contemporary Jewish Museum does not simply house this programmatic vision; it enables and inspires it. After contemplating our program and studying the historic site and its surrounding area, Libeskind laid before himself a challenge: How does one capture that which is firmly rooted in history and carry it into the future? His solution was to give the historic building life, literally. The structural addition is based on the physical form of the Hebrew word and symbol for life, the chai. Emerging from behind the walls and roof of the former substation, the new chai addition transforms the industrial spaces of the early twentieth-century edifice into a new forum for the exchange of historical and contemporary ideas.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum gratefully acknowledges the generous support of an anonymous supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund; The Frances K. and Theodore H. Geballe Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund; The Simcha Foundation; Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund; The Wallace Foundation; Alexander M. and June L. Maisin Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation's Endowment Fund; Target; Bank of New York Mellon; Hermès San Francisco; Jim Joseph Foundation; Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund; San Francisco Foundation; The Stanley S. Langendorf Foundation; Miranda Lux Foundation; Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation, in memory of Ben and A. Jess Shenson; Morgan Stanley; Lillian H. Florsheim Foundation for Fine Arts; Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education; U.S. Bank; anonymous donors; and the Members of the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The Museum is supported by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.

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