Project Mah Jongg

January 24 – April 22, 2012

Project Mah Jongg is the first exhibition of its kind—taking visitors on an exploration of the game’s cultural meanings through sight, sound, text, and play. The game of mah jongg is explored in dynamic formats throughout the exhibition, including 20th-century popular objects and a visitor-activated soundscape that features clacking tiles, exclamations from games by Jewish-American and Chinese-American players, reminiscences, and vintage music. Large-scale graphics by Isaac Mizrahi, Maira Kalman, Bruce McCall, and Christoph Niemann illustrate mah jongg as an ongoing muse for contemporary artists. A game table at the core of the exhibition invites visitors to engage in the continuing tradition.


The Maltz Museum has added vintage mah jongg sets and rule cards from area Clevelanders, period costumes on loan from the Kent State University Museum, and a short film by area filmmakers Amy Wasserstrom Cummings and John Cummings. Titled May the Tiles Be with You: Cleveland’s Love Affair with Mah Jongg, the documentary records the mah jongg memories of Clevelanders.  Music for the exhibition has been provided by the Cleveland Chinese Music Ensemble.  Game tables available by reservation only.  Call the Museum for details.


The exhibition serves as historical treatment of the topic, a placeholder for memory, a generator of whimsy, and a stage set for the game’s continuation. The environment conveys how mah jongg is much more than a game: it is a carrier of fantasy, identity, memory, and meaning.


Project Mah Jongg was created by the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City.


Visit the official website

Read more about the exhibition in the New York Times and Cleveland Magazine.

Watch a podcast about the exhibition from The Forward.


Project Mah Jongg is made possible through the generosity of the National Mah Jongg League. Additional support is provided by Sylvia Hassenfeld and 2wice Arts Foundation. Exhibit design by Abbott Miller, Pentagram

Local sponsors include BNY Mellon Wealth ManagementMargaret Wong & Associates, Pearl of the Orient, Dollar Bank, and Li Wah. Media sponsor Cleveland Jewish News.


Mah Jongg Maven Sponsors: Mr. and Mrs. Irving B. Fine, Lou Freiberg and Lois J. Davis, Al Gray and Daughters Lottie and Rachel and Grandson Azzizi, Elaine Harris Green, Myah Moore Irick (PNC Wealth Management), Milt and Tamar Maltz, Don and Sally Messinger, Alan and Carole Schonberg, Lauren and Steve Spilman

Mah Jongg  Enthusiast Sponsors: Harry J. and Rosalyn Abraham; Ian and Gloria Abrams; Lawrence and Nancy Bell; Dr. Erol and Laura Beytas; Café 56 Catering; Corky and Lenny’s; Stacie and Jeff Halpern; Lilli Harris; Jack’s Delicatessen; Judy and David Kaufman; Lois Klein; Leikin Motor Companies; Alvin and Lorrie Magid; Alvie and Kathy Markowitz; Abraham and Barbara Miller; Denise Arnstine, Marti Davis, Susie Rubin, and Shari Perlmuter; Lori and Scott Soble; Bob and Michelle Reiner; Phillip and Peggy Wasserstrom