Hardly Strictly Warren Hellman

September 18, 2014–Ongoing

WHellman bus 545


The Contemporary Jewish Museum celebrates the legacy of one of San Francisco’s greatest and most beloved benefactors in a new exhibition Hardly Strictly Warren Hellman. Warren Hellman (1934-2011) was an investment banker, philanthropist, musician, and music enthusiast who believed in the importance of community arts. Among a host of business and philanthropic accomplishments, Hellman may now be best recognized for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (HSB), which he founded in 2001. Held annually in Golden Gate Park, the free festival draws more than 700,000 people.

Hardly Strictly Warren Hellman will center on video projection and audio listening stations featuring musical performances from HSB’s archive of artists—available to the general public for the first time. Special, resonant personal objects will also be included—such as Hellman’s Star-of-David rhinestone studded jacket and signed banjo—along with other HSB ephemera.

Born into a prominent California family, Hellman created his own enduring legacy. Described by The Bay Citizen as a “Republican who supported labor unions, an investment banker whose greatest joy was playing songs of the working class in a bluegrass band, ” Hellman was a distinctly San Franciscan iconoclast and uniquely Jewish figure.


  Press Release




Hardly Strictly Warren Hellman is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. Major Sponsorship for this exhibition is provided by Osterweis Capital Management. Additional generous support is provided by Phyllis Cook, the Carla and David Crane Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, the Hellman Family, and Rosanne and Al Levitt.

osterweiscapital 2013

Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation.

koret dec 2014


Photo credit: Warren Hellman. ©2008, Jay Blakesberg.


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