In case the only time you've heard about mah jongg was the line from Annie Hall in which Woody Allen says that his mother, a “high-strung woman, locked herself in the bathroom and took an overdose of mah-jongg tiles,” today is your chance to open a vast and copious treasure chest of Jewish-Chinese cultural confluence.  “Project Mah Jongg,” produced by the Museum of Jewish Heritage, has cycled through the U.S. for the past two years through various museums, and it's a massive overview of the Chinese game of chance that seized American fascination with the inscrutable Orient, as much as any chop suey joint or “Fu Manchu” novel, sold for the first time, in all places, at Abercrombie & Fitch (!).  You play mah jongg like gin rummy, using patterned tiles instead of cards; four players build sets with the tiles, building up suits.  The Skirball exhibition includes almost a century's worth of mah jongg sets, tiles, rule books, newspaper articles about the craze, and vintage photographs of people playing mah jongg in the strangest places, along with the art that mah jongg has inspired by the likes of designer Isaac Mizrahi and New Yorker illustrator Bruce McCall. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.; opens Thurs., May 17; exhibit runs Tues.-Sun.; thru Sept. 2; $10, $7 seniors, $5 children. (310) 440-4500;

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: May 17. Continues through Sept. 2, 2012

LA Weekly