A look at the new Jewish Museum in SF

June 4, 2008 7:37:36 PM PDT
The Contemporary Jewish Museum is on Mission Street across from Yerba Buena Garden.

It's a bold venture economically and architecturally.

It's an old 1907 power substation that brought life back to the city after the big earthquake.

It was designed by the legendary Willis Polk and there were once transformers and wires. Now, there is a new landmark.

"The form of the new building juxtaposes with the historical form of the power station to bring life and continuity to San Francisco," said architect Daniel Libeskind.

He is one of the enthusiastic superstars of architecture who says his concept was to infuse a new kind of energy at the museum.

"To life, l'Chaim, the quintessential Jewish thought because it is celebrating life. What is more appropriate in the art of San Francisco than to celebrate the cultural life of Jewish people and the life of a city," said Libeskind.

The building is really a stirring example of angled shapes. A contemporary approach to jewish culture.

"We have this wonderful new form so we have dialogue between the old and new so visitors can get a piece of San Francisco history," said director and CEO Connie Wolf.

And while the building can be looked on as art, it is in the galleries where the museum must distinguish itself.

There is an inaugural exhibition that will be at the museum until January.

"We invited seven contemporary artists to create new installations. in a sense new commentary on this text," said Wolf.

There are exhibits, and there is no permanent collection.

"We're exploring art, history, ideas of Jewish culture, looking at these through contemporary lenses. So we're going to have a change of exhibits on view," said assistant curator Dana Solomon.

That includes works by the late William Steig. Most of his cartoons appeared in the New Yorker and he created 'Shrek.'

"Shrek means "fear" in Yiddish," said Solomon.

An emotion they never want visitors to experience.


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