Since its founding in 1984, The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) has distinguished itself as a welcoming place where visitors can connect with one another through dialogue and shared experiences with the arts. Ever changing, The CJM is a non-collecting institution that partners with national and international cultural institutions to present exhibitions that are both timely and relevant and represent the highest level of artistic achievement and scholarship.
The CJM makes the diversity of the Jewish experience relevant for a twenty-first century audience. We accomplish this through innovative exhibitions and programs that educate, challenge, and inspire.
The Museum’s Daniel Libeskind-designed facility enables and inspires its mission. Dynamic and welcoming, it's a place to experience art, music, film, literature, debate, and—most importantly—people.
To be an engaging forum for diverse audiences where new perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas thrive.
Lori Starr joined The CJM as Executive Director in June 2013. In her decades as a leader in the arts, Starr has been recognized for her commitment to engaging diverse audiences with innovative exhibitions and interdisciplinary public programming. Prior to her appointment, she was Executive Director of the Koffler Centre of the Arts, Canada's only multidisciplinary, contemporary Jewish cultural institution offering cutting edge contemporary art exhibitions, music, dance, film, literary, theater, and other programs. Starr also served as Vice President for Culture for the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto; Senior Vice President and Museum Director of the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles; and Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the J. Paul Getty Trust and J. Paul Getty Museum. Additionally, she has held key management and education positions in the School of Fine Arts, University of Southern California, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Starr holds an M.A. in Art History from University of Virginia, and a B.A. in Art History from Rutgers University-New Brunswick. She was a Rockefeller Fellow in Museum Education and Community Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s architecture fuses a historic power station, originally built in 1881, to a soaring blue steel geometric superstructure. Its building embodies the past and present, the utilitarian and the abstract, the traditional and the contemporary. Since opening in 2008, it has become an iconic edifice in San Francisco’s cityscape: it fascinates everyday passersby and is a popular point of destination for residents and tourists alike. Yet, from the ground, few realize that the building’s unusual shape is derived from the Hebrew letters, chet and yud, which together spell chai, the Hebrew word for “life.”
The Helen Diller Institute is a collaborative work space where distinguished visiting scholars and project teams of CJM staff work together to create dynamic Jewish content and programs for The Museum’s diverse audiences. The Institute is a center of scholarship that engenders dialogue, collaboration, and creativity, the centerpiece of which is a Beit Midrash ("study hall" in Hebrew) for ongoing convenings and trainings that enhance The Museum’s exhibitions and programs in development.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum thanks The Helen Diller Family Foundation for generous, visionary support of The Helen Diller Institute.