A historical typewriter will be part of the Royal Oak Historical Society Museum’s latest exhibit, “A Journey to the Smartphone: Smoke Signals to the Smartphone,” which will run Feb. 4 to the end of June.

A historical typewriter will be part of the Royal Oak Historical Society Museum’s latest exhibit, “A Journey to the Smartphone: Smoke Signals to the Smartphone,” which will run Feb. 4 to the end of June.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik


Royal Oak Historical Society Museum touts latest exhibit

Royal Oak Historical Society Museum touts latest exhibit

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 23, 2018

ROYAL OAK — From 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4, the Royal Oak Historical Society will welcome the public for a preview party of its latest exhibit, “A Journey to the Smartphone: Smoke Signals to the Smartphone,” which will highlight how communication has evolved through the ages.

In an effort to draw more families, organizers are requesting a $5 donation to attend the opening event, and children ages 12 and younger will get in for free. Refreshments will be served.

“We’ve always done a big evening fundraiser, but we’re only asking for a $5 donation,” said museum Executive Director Muriel Versagi.

Included in the exhibit will be photos, stories and physical artifacts from Royal Oak and surrounding areas to illustrate how people have relayed information since the 1800s.

Johanna Schurrer, a volunteer with the Historical Society, came up with the premise for the exhibit.

“It’s a very complicated exhibit. I thought of just taking the smartphone and its different icons and then taking it back to where it all came from,” she said. “Everything will have its own little area. It’s not like most of the exhibits we put on, where you have to follow the history. With this, you can just bounce around whatever you’re interested in.”

Featured displays, she said, will include smoke signals as used by Native Americans; semaphore flags, which are still used on ships; the Pony Express; the telegraph and Morse code; TVs, radios and telephones; typing and newspaper classes taught in schools; and much more.

“The beginnings of some of the (archetypes created by inventors) that eventually became computers date way back to the 1600s,” Schurrer said. “We’re trying to have it so it’s something you can understand on all levels. Kids can read it and understand it, and adults too.”

She said she is most interested in seeing how children will interact with the hands-on exhibits.

“We have an old typewriter in this desk, and the kids who come in are enticed by it,” she said. “We have a lot of stuff. I think it’s going to be interesting.”

While the museum normally houses a new exhibit every few months, Schurrer said volunteers are trying to cut back. The “A Journey to the Smartphone” exhibit will extend through June, and in May, the museum will also showcase artifacts depicting the Royal Oak Police Department’s 100-year history.

There will be a centennial celebration for the Police Department at the museum during the month of May. Versagi said the date would be forthcoming.

The “A Journey to the Smartphone” exhibit will be open during the museum’s regular hours — 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through the end of June.

The museum, a nonprofit organization run by volunteers, is located inside the former Royal Oak Fire Department building at 1411 W. Webster Road, west of Crooks Road. Parking is available in the church lot next door.

For more information, call (248) 439-1501, email curator@royaloak historicalsociety.org or visit www.royaloakhistoricalsociety.com.

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.