Contemporary Jewish Museum

At San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum, the blend of cultures that make San Francisco unique are reflected in the diversity of the Jewish experience. From the influence of the Kibbutz upon counterculture in the Bay Area, to gratifying encounters between black and Jewish musicians, the impact of Jewish culture is wide and deep enough to include countless others as well.

Current exhibits at CJM include the World of Arnold Lobel, whose popular Frog and Toad children’s books have enchanted children for decades. Visitors can also glimpse Jason Lazarus: Live Archive, which features the multidimensional messages of Occupy Wall Street signage as well as a collection of objects too painful or too joyful to keep.

With both pain and joy mingling frequently in Jewish history, it’s appropriate that another exhibit, Work in Progress: Considering Utopia, focuses on goals of perfection and the pitfalls of planning for such a dream. At this exhibit, visitors are even invited to create their own utopian ideal.

Later in 2014, visitors will have another opportunity to engage when six-word memoirs on the topic of Jewish life will flash through the lobby. Guests will be able to compose their own memoir via their smartphone and add it to the museum’s live feed. Also next year, guests can learn about the artistic aspects of the haggadah, or Passover Seder ritual text, from the late Arthur Szyk, a Polish artist who was not afraid to confront the reflections of Nazi Germany in his religiously curious work.

The Jewish people have often been motivated by dynamic personalities, many of which can be found in CJM’s prior showings. Past exhibits have shown collections of photos by Allen Ginsberg, explored the life of Gertrude Stein, and pulled back the curtain on Houdini’s magical art.

CJM also offers classes, workshops, gallery talks, lectures, screenings and special events for visitors of all ages. For the younger crowd, the museum offers opportunities to both create and absorb art of all kinds.

Even the building which houses the museum is culturally connective. The structure blends the historical significance of an early 1900s landmark with the intentional design of an architect chosen by CJM. At 63,000 square feet, the internal space is ample enough to showcase not only art, but also historical perspectives and groundbreaking ideas.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum is located at 736 Mission Street in San Francisco. They can be reached at (415) 655-7800 or via the web at The museum is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 – 5:00. The museum is open from 1:00 – 8:00 on Thursdays.

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