The Contemporary Jewish Museum Responds to Incident


San Francisco, CA, July 19, 2011—In response to an unfortunate event that occurred in one the Museum’s Gallery’s on Sunday, July 17, 2011, Contemporary Jewish Museum Director & CEO Connie Wolf has provided the following response:

“As Director and CEO of The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM), I am writing you about an event that occurred at the Museum on July 17, 2011. The purpose in sharing this information is to inform you of the CJM’s position on this matter, and the steps taken to ensure that something of this nature will not reoccur.

While viewing the exhibition Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories in the Koshland Gallery, two women who were holding hands were informed by a contract security guard, acting in his individual capacity, that such behavior was not allowed at the Museum and asked the couple to leave.  The couple requested to speak to the head of security, who upon arrival immediately removed the guard from duty and issued a verbal apology to the couple for the guard’s behavior. We note that the security guard in question is employed by a security services company with whom the CJM has contracted and is not assigned to the CJM on a regular basis. In fact, that guard was called in to fill a temporary slot due to staffing shortage. The guard’s behavior—something that has never happened at this museum in the past—resulted in an event that cannot be allowed to happen again.

Please let me be crystal clear that the CJM has a zero tolerance policy concerning any type of prejudiced or racist word or action— whether directed at CJM visitors or staff. Since the Museum opened its new facility in June 2008, it has engaged audiences of all ages and backgrounds through dynamic exhibitions and programs that explore contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. The Museum has distinguished itself as a welcoming place where all visitors can connect with one another through dialogue and shared experiences with the arts.

Consistent with the CJM’s zero tolerance policy, we promptly filed a formal complaint with the security services company which employs the guard in question. We informed the company that the type of behavior exhibited by the guard is contrary to the CJM’s policy and is unacceptable.  We communicated explicit expectations that the guard never be assigned to the CJM in any capacity at any time. Moreover, the CJM required that the company instruct all security guards it assigns to the CJM on appropriate behavior toward Museum visitors and provide the CJM with a corrective plan of action. The company has assured the CJM that the guard in question has been reprimanded, and that going forwarded all of the company employees assigned to duties at  the CJM will be required to attend a sensitivity training course that addresses how Museum visitors are to be treated.

On behalf of the Museum, its staff, and Board of Trustees, we are truly sorry that this incident occurred in our facility. We are proud to be presenting the exhibition Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories and welcome all visitors to experience the work on view.”

We commend the Bay Citizen for their comprehensive reporting of the event. Read the article.

For further press inquiries, please contact:

Nina Sazevich
Public Relations
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Daryl Carr
Director of Marketing & Communications 
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