New Libeskind building for Jewish museum

NEW YORK. The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco is scheduled to reopen on 8 June in a new 63,000 sq. ft building designed by Daniel Libeskind. Built around and incorporating structural elements of a 1907 power substation, the $47m building will enable the museum to expand its exhibition and educational programming. Dedicated to Jewish culture, history and art, the museum has operated in a gallery space within a local Jewish philanthropical organisation since 1984. The museum has raised $80m for its new building campaign, including $25m for the endowment.

The new building’s main feature is its façade of blue steel panels. For its inaugural exhibition, “In the Beginning: Artists Respond to Genesis”, the museum commissioned seven artists to create works based on the Old Testament book of creation. Other opening displays include John Zorn’s Aleph-Bet Sound Project, which utilises the space’s 65-foot ceiling and walls, projecting echoing noises based on letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

The museum is part of a major city project, headed by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, to revitalise the Yerba Buena area. The agency granted the Contemporary Jewish Museum rights to redevelop the landmark power station in the mid 1990s.

Other new museums that are part of the project include the Museum of the African Diaspora, which opened in 2005, and the planned Mexican Museum, which is still struggling to find funding for a building across the street from the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Lauren Jones

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