On Sunday, June 8th, San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum welcomed visitors for the first time in their new building designed by Daniel Libeskind, architect of the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Housed in the landmark Jessie Street Power Substation near Yerba Buena Gardens, the architect made an adaptive reuse of the building, adding on blue geometric forms to the existing structure. According to The New York Times, Libeskind was inspired by San Francisco’s culture of “freedom, curiosity, and possibility.” The architect’s other Jewish museums in Berlin, Copenhagen, and Osnabrück, Germany seem to be haunted by “tragedies and traumas of the Jewish past.”
The Contemporary Jewish Museum explores contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas through exhibitions and programs. One of their inaugural exhibitions, In the Beginning: Artists Respond to Genesis, commissioned work from seven artists to respond to the first book of the Torah, including new work from Art21 artists Matthew Ritchie (Season 3), Trenton Doyle Hancock (Season 2), and Ann Hamilton (Season 1). These new commissions are installed alongside artworks from the museum’s collection, including some by Marc Chagall, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, and others.