Sunday, December 27, 2009
Christmas at the Contemporary Jewish Museum
The Contemporary Jewish Museum in downtown San Francisco opened its doors on Christmas Day to the public with an offer of free admission to the year-old building, which prompted a huge line that snaked across the large stone plaza in front of the museum.
The $47.5 million building consists of the brick facade of a 19th Century electrical substation designed by Willis Polk that was somehow integrated with two dark, torqued cubes on their sides by starchitect of the moment Daniel Libeskind.
From the outside, the design looks rather fun, but inside it's something of a disaster, with most of the space devoted to a large lobby and sloping walls that feel more claustrophobic than liberating, not to mention impractical for displaying art. In its ugliness and uselessness, the building's only competitor in awful new San Francisco architecture is probably the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender What-Have-You Center that opened on upper Market Street in 2002.
The security at the entrance was also extremely invasive, though the guards were for the most part a jolly crew.
We were given a timed entry sticker for a Maurice Sendak exhibit that was scheduled for two hours after our arrival, but there was no way we were going to wait that long, so we didn't see any "Where The Wild Things Are" sketches. We probably never will, since this is not a building that's high on the list for a return visit.