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story.lead_photo.caption This Underwood typewriter circa 1940 will be part of the P.J. Ahern Home exhibit on inventions. Photo by Submitted photo

TEXARKANA, Ark. — The P.J. Ahern Home soon hosts an evolutionary tale about how inventions have shaped our lives over the past century.
"Then and Now: the Evolution of Inventions" showcases a number of ways technology has evolved in that time. The exhibit, which can be seen as part of the regular Ahern Home tour, will open Saturday and run through the end of August.
Texarkana Museums System Curator Jamie Simmons said special interactive activities will happen Saturday as part of the exhibit opening.
"The exhibit itself is focused on common inventions that we use still today in one form or another and how inventions evolved over time, for instance the telephone. We now use cell phones but we have early examples of the first kind of telephone you could have gotten back in Texarkana in 1895," Simmons said.
That late 19th century telephone didn't allow the user to dial. "You had to rely on an operator, that sort of thing," Simmons said. It evolved into the modern cell phone, of course, which puts the world in the palm of the user's hands.
Photography is another example. "We'll have an evolution of cameras and talk about the early technology, things like stereoscope, things like that and photographs. Typewriters leading to computers," Simmons said. "They're all interesting elements of connecting past technology, showing where that technology is today with modern elements."
Originally, the TMS intention was to make this a hands-on exhibit experience, where people could try this technology for themselves, but with the coronavirus pandemic that's on hold for now. At the opening event, a few make-and-take components will be available, the curator said. For example, they'll make low-tech speakers.
"We'll be making some cell phone speakers that people can take with them out of recyclable materials," Simmons said.
The exhibit is part of the regular tour at this downtown historic home for the next two months. It's a family-friendly stop on the tour, the curator said.
All of the Texarkana Museums System properties are back open at normal hours, apart from Sundays and not including Discovery Place Interactive Museum, which is still closed. The TMS staff members have all been tested and cleared of coronavirus after the TMS president tested positive for COVID-19, Simmons said.
"If someone would like to schedule a group tour, of course we're limiting any groups to 10 or less," Simmons said. However, a group tour of 8 to 10 can be scheduled by calling her at the TMS phone number, 903-793-4831.
(Tour admission is $5, or free for TMS members. Tour times: Tuesday through Saturday at 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. The P.J. Ahern Home is located at 403 Laurel St. More info: 903-793-4831.)

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