Friday, August 17, 2012

Coming to America: Tesla Museum?

Many science enthusiasts would agree that Nikola Tesla ranks among the greatest underdog heroes in the history of science. His story, particularly his acrimonious relationship with Thomas Edison, has resonated with many.

But there's currently no museum in the United States to celebrate Tesla's great scientific achievements. Serbia's capital, Belgrade, hosts the most comprehensive Tesla museum -- a fitting location because Tesla's parents hailed from Serbia.

But Tesla spent most of his career in the United States and eventually became a citizen in 1891. Also, he reportedly considered his U.S. citizenship to be more important than his scientific successes. So why don't we have a museum for him here?

That's what Matthew Inman, the creator of the popular Oatmeal webcomic asked (note: In addition to being a big Tesla fan, Inman has a penchant for swearing). So he's decided to help a non-profit organization buy the land surrounding Tesla's last laboratory in New York: Wardenclyffe. The land was recently put up for sale, and New York State has promised to match half of the roughly $1.6 million to buy it if someone can raise the other half through fundraising.

In two days, Inman has already raised over $500,000, and he's recruited one well-known Tesla enthusiast to help.

Elon Musk, the billionaire behind Paypal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, has pledged to help the cause, according to an email to Inman. Because building a science museum will add up to millions more dollars, organizers will need financial help from big names like Musk.

So who's behind the actual push for the science museum? The Tesla Science Center at WardenClyffe, a non-profit comprised of physicists and other Tesla fans, hopes to eventually build the science museum.

You can learn more about their mission on their Facebook page linked above or in this Wired interview with one of the group's members (halfway down the page).

It seems like a great cause, and I encourage you to read more about it on Inman's crowdfunding page on indiegogo.

To learn more about Tesla's "war" with Thomas Edison, check out Physics Central's Tesla comic book.


  1. Well, Nikola Tesla was from serbian parents in Croatia.

    It's true that he spent a lot of his career in the US, but he arrived there as he was already 28.
    He studied in Europe, he made his first discoveries and inventions in Europe and most of what he later did in the US was a further development of what he started in Europe.

    A Tesla museum in the US is right and welcome, but I think that it's just right the first Tesla museum is in his fatherland.



  2. I meant "Nikola Tesla was born from serbian parents in Croatia."


  3. Mauro, Croatia didn't exist at the time. He was born in Austria. He did have Serbian parents though.