The traveling exhibition Project Mah Jongg—which debuted in New York City at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and opened here just last week—arrived in the largest truck that’s ever driven onto the Skirball campus. Somewhat ironic since the show was about to be installed in our smallest (yet plenty spacious) gallery.
Once everything was unloaded, the individual tile-shaped “totems” required a lot of assembly. We are big fans of Pentagram Design, which created the show, so we were looking forward to seeing how it all went together.
The text panels are adorned with mah jongg tile graphics. From what I’ve learned about the rummy-like game, mah jongg features three basic suits—characters, bamboo, and circles (which American mah jongg players refer to as crak, bam, and dot)—plus an array of tiles that depict winds, flowers, dragons, and seasons.
Once the third levels were up (thanks to our gallery’s very high ceilings), the connecting cross beams (which form a Star of David) had to be installed.
Another part of taking it up a notch is providing our guests with comfortable reading/waiting areas. We like to have these spaces function as part of the content of the exhibition instead of using more traditional museum furniture. We based the area on a painting in the exhibition, which we can’t show here. You’ll just have to come see it for yourselves. And what’s right beyond the gallery’s full-length glass windows? An outdoor space for mahj playing. More on that in a future post.
One can also play a game of mahj indoors, right inside the gallery. Here’s what Project Mah Jongg looks like in final form.