Contemporary Jewish Museum
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Contemporary Jewish Museum information
That upended brushed-steel box miraculously balancing on one corner isn't a sculpture, but the entry to the Contemporary Jewish Museum – and inside this building, any preconceived ideas about religion and art are also upended. Exhibits are compelling, provocative explorations of Jewish culture and ideals featuring artists as diverse as Andy Warhol and Amy Winehouse, Gertrude Stein and Harry Houdini. The affectionately nicknamed 'Jewseum' invites theological and artistic debate over respectable pastrami, served on-site from 11am to 2pm by SF's Wise Sons Jewish Deli.
The 2008 Jewish Museum building merges the new steel structure with the original 1907 brick facade of the Jesse St power substation, an early industrial structure whimsically decorated with cherubs and garlands. Before designing New York's controversial September 11 memorial, architect Daniel Liebskind planned San Francisco's 'Jewseum' to be both rational and mystical. Its blue-steel cladding forms the Hebrew word l'chaim (to life) – an intriguing idea, though perhaps best appreciated from a helicopter. But the museum and plaza he designed are a welcome pause for reflection in the heart of San Francisco, and a fitting tribute to the Bay Area's diverse Jewish community.