CJM breaks ground on visionary new facility

The Contemporary Jewish Museum is moving into its new home on a portion of Mission Street that may one day be the cultural equivalent of New

York’s Fifth Avenue.

Today’s groundbreaking of the three-story, 63,000-square-foot structure comes on the heels of the December opening of the Museum of the African Diaspora on the next block.

The new CJM is the work of architect Daniel Libeskind and is housed in the former Jessie Street Power Substation. Libeskind and Mayor Gavin Newsom are expected at this morning’s 10:30 event.

“It’s a historic substation that once had a lot of toxicity,” said Sam Nunes, an architect who helped on the design team.

The brick and terra cotta power station was first built in 1881. Following the 1906 earthquake, it was rebuilt and served as a PG&E substation until the 1960s.

The new museum will open the building to the public for the first time in nearly a century.

The museum is dedicated to exploring and sharing Jewish

perspectives on culture, history and art. It will not have a permanent collection, but will instead focus on contemporary rotating exhibits.

The site shares the same plaza as St. Patrick’s Church and the future Mexican Museum. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts are both just minutes away on foot.

Given the proximity of all the culture, an art lover could easily spend an entire day in The City’s museum district, said Connie Wolf, director and CEO of the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

“It’s the museum corridor,” Wolf said. “There are discussions” among various art institutions to develop a single pass to allow entry to several museums, the executive director said.

The $47 million museum is slated to open in the spring of 2008. Fundraising is ongoing in the $77 million campaign that also aims to support the museum’s endowment.

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