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By Tom Sloper (湯姆 斯洛珀)
May 27, The Year Of The Dragon 龍

Column #521

This past week it was my pleasure to experience "Project Mah Jongg" at the Skirball Cultural Center, here in Los Angeles. This exhibit is the same one that showed earlier this year in New York at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. I'd heard about the exhibit, but wasn't able to make it to New York at the time. Now, fortunately for me, Project Mah Jongg is traveling where the winds blow, and the winds have blown it, not to Kansas nor to the Land of Oz, but right here to Los Angeles.

As mah jongg museum exhibits go, it's fairly small, but a lot of thought and research has gone into the selection of the objects and accompanying art. Don't make the mistake of breezing through--you want to get the guidebook and a docent guide. Why not take your group? Go to and click on "Plan Your Visit" under "General Info."

Left: I soak up the ambiance at the Skirball Cultural Center; Right: the Project Mah Jongg guidebook, together with Skirball publications

The focus of the exhibit is the kinship Jews feel with Chinese culture, especially the game of mah-jongg. You want to see the photos of the founders of the National Mah Jongg League, and mah-jongg-inspired artworks like "Mah Jongg Murder," the fashionable "Mah Jongg Collection," and the colorful "Miami Mah Jongg."

Author Elaine Sandberg is teaching at Project Mah Jongg from 1:00 to 3:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays, from May 30 to June 25 (eight sessions). That's starting this week!

The Skirball Cultural Center was founded to preserve and display a treasure of objects, images, and stories related to Jewish heritage and its relation to the ideals of American democracy and family life. I particularly enjoyed the Noah's Ark rooms (check out the lightning maker!).

Museum hours and admission information are available online at, and you can read about the exhibit at

Project Mah Jongg runs until September 2, but don't wait. Once you experience it, you'll want to come back, hang around, and play games in the beautiful setting. Quit dragon and get two crackin'!

Special thanks to Jennifer Caballero and Lisa Delgin for the lovely guided tour!


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© 2012 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.