The Contemporary Jewish Museum was founded in 1984 with the goal of offering contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. Just how contemporary can a Jewish museum get, you ask? Take a look at the exterior and you'll see for yourself. Slicing a traditional brick substation is a slanted, black stainless steel cube with the occasional glass window to let natural light into the building. You don't have to be an art or architecture major to understand the obvious imagery at play here.
That said, if you didn't know the name of the museum, it would be difficult to tell that this is in fact a Jewish museum based solely on its visiting collections (there is no permanent collection). The reason is because within these walls you'll find such varied and different exhibitions - photographs of Allen Ginsberg will be placed next to a collection of pieces celebrating "100 Years of the Spiritual in Modern Art", which in turn will be displayed one floor away from a series of listening stations explaining the history of black-Jewish relations. It's a bit of a hodgepodge but that's what makes it a great place for anybody interested in culture, history, and art; not just Jewish culture, history, and art.
When you're done visiting the collections, do make a stop at the museum store on the ground floor as well as the San Francisco MOMA Store across the street. There are some pretty neat gifts here.
Meeting point: The coat check area in the lobby.
Leaders, please click here for opening hours.