Plan your visit to The CJM!

The Museum is now open! Reserve your tickets here. For those who aren't yet ready or able to visit The Museum in person, we invite you to explore the virtual version of Predicting the Past: Zohar Studios, The Lost Years on this page.

Photography emerged in the early nineteenth century, a discovery that predated electricity and would prove to be just as transformative. To have one’s photographic portrait taken was a precise, inconvenient, and specialized process involving the magic of chemistry and time—a process much removed from the highly accessible, instantaneous digital phenomenon we know today. Even as the medium continues to change, artists continue to illuminate and push its boundaries.

We are excited to bring you into the world of early photography with The CJM's latest exhibition. Open to the public for only six hours before our building's closure, we look forward to the day that this exhibition will reopen and be able to be experienced in person. In the meantime, take a virtual trip back in time to nineteenth-century photographer Shimmel Zohar’s portrait studio and his clientele of intriguing characters, the context of Stephen Berkman’s exhibition Predicting the Past: Zohar Studios, The Lost Years.

—Hedi Rabben, Senior Curator


Hover over the blue arrows in the floor plan to see installation views and read exhibition wall texts.

About the Exhibition

Predicting the Past: Zohar Studios, The Lost Years includes photography and installation by Los Angeles-based artist Stephen Berkman, who grew up in the Bay Area. The exhibition features images by the nineteenth century Jewish immigrant photographer Shimmel Zohar from his studio on the Lower East Side in New York City. Prints in elaborate Victorian frames address both Jewish life and the scientific state of understanding over one hundred years ago. In addition, environmental installations utilize antique technological visual phenomena.


Predicting the Past: Zohar Studios, The Lost Years is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum. Leadership support is generously provided by Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt, The Bernard Osher Foundation, and the John Pritzker Family Fund. Major support is provided by Joyce B. Linker and Dorothy R. Saxe.

Media Sponsorship is provided by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Image Credit: 

Stephen Berkman, Conjoined Twins, undated. Albumen print, 11x 14 in.