July 13–October 28, 2014
Women playing mah jongg in the Catskills, c. 1960
Collection of Harvey Abrams
Since the 1920s, the game of mah jongg has ignited the popular imagination with its beautiful tiles, mythical origins, and communal spirit. It is a game more widely known than played or undestood, and it is a true cultural hybrid. With roots in China, it made a lasting impression on American audiences and became closely linked with Jewish women beginning in the 1930s. The exhibition explores the fascinating history of the game and its impact on cultural identity, fashion and style. The exhibition provides insight into the hisotry and imagery of the game and explores connections between Chinese and Jewish cultures and includes dozens of artifacts — scorecards, aprons, packages, tiles — chronicling both the commercial legacy and social history of the game. Project Mah Jongg was curated and is circulated by the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York.