Discovery Place has electrified fun for Tesla day

Discovery Place has electrified fun for Tesla day

March 15th, 2019 by Aaron Brand in Features

Discovery Place Interactive Museum celebrates all things Nicola Tesla on Saturday, March 30, introducing a new repertoire of tunes for the museum's two synchronized, musical Tesla coils. (Gazette file photo)

A celebration of all things Nikola Tesla brings electrified fun to Discovery Place Interactive Museum, including new music for the museum's two synchronized, musical Tesla coils.

Discovery Place ends its March Music Month event series on Saturday, March 30, by hosting a day-long celebration that brings roughly two dozen new songs to the dual-coil Tesla machine. Documentary movies about the famous inventor and coils' namesake will also be shown.

Saying "We're going to have some David Bowie," Velvet Hall Cool, board president for the Texarkana Museums System, describes the new additions as largely movie and TV show theme songs, including a number from "Frozen."

The Tesla coils repertoire began with about 20 songs when it first opened here in Texarkana, so this addition essentially doubles the playlist capacity.

"We have acquired about 20 to 25 new songs for the Tesla machine, so we're going to have a Tesla day at the Discovery Place Interactive Museum. We'll be doing shows throughout the day of the new songs and also showing some of the documentaries that we have on Nikola Tesla," Cool said. "We'll have some stations throughout the museum that showcase some of his other inventions and ideas, not just the Tesla (coils)."

The coils create a high-voltage dance of lightning in a cage.

"It will be a million volts of electricity," Cool said.

First, though, the Ace of Clubs House starts an ongoing exhibit featuring the changes in musical instruments over time. The historic home's rooms will feature different instruments, ranging from the piano to harpsichord, a clavicytherium and more. It begins Saturday and runs to the end of April.

"In each room we will showcase a different style of instrument and how it has progressed over time," Cool said.

Zoe Nakashian, conservator at the Ace of Clubs, said the exhibit will look at such things as how the piano developed from the harpsichord. Unusual instruments like the melodeon will also be covered.

"It basically looks like a keyboard but it has a mouthpiece and you blow through the mouthpiece and basically play the keyboard," she said.

Another example is the pump organ with its foot pump pedals to power the air, Nakashian said. "And also how music was repeated, as it were, so recording of music, sheet music. We'll have a Victrola and record players, all the way through to the iPad," she said.

Entertainment at the Ace of Clubs would have often included music, from piano playing to listening to the radio. Some items originate from the house, while others are from the TMS collection.

The TMS is also preparing for its Downtown Tinkertown event on May 11, the same day as Railfest.

"We're encouraging local businesses, civic organizations and things like that that want to showcase their company's talents to reach out to us about having a booth," Cool said. Contact the TMS if interested.

(Admission to either event is $5 per person, free for TMS members and children 3 and under. Discounted admission of $2 is available to anyone with SNAP/EBT cards. Discovery Place Interactive Museum is located at 215 Pine St. and Ace of Clubs House is located at 420 Pine St. in Texarkana, Texas. Hours those Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More info: TexarkanaMuseums.org or call 903-793-4831.)

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