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About Us

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 shared experiences with the arts. 

In 2008, The Museum opened a new building designed by internationally-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. Inspired by the Hebrew phrase l’chaim (“to life”), the building is a physical embodiment of The CJM’s dedication to exploring dynamic, contemporary Jewish life.

The CJM is a non-collecting institution that partners with national and international cultural institutions to present ever-changing exhibitions that are both timely and relevant and represent the highest level of artistic achievement and scholarship.


Mission Statement

The CJM’s mission is to welcome all to explore the evolving, diverse Jewish life of today through innovative exhibitions and programs that educate, challenge, and inspire.

In doing so, we aim to foster healthy Jewish identities, enrich the communities The Museum serves, and combat intolerance of all kinds.

Core Purpose

To be an engaging forum for diverse audiences where new perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas thrive.


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

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.

Image Credits

Photos by Gary Sexton Photography; Olivia Smartt; and Jasper Sanidad.