Monday, August 20, 2012

No Nikola Tesla Museum Exists in the U.S., Yet - But A New Nonprofit Is Hoping You'll Help Change That

I am a Nikola Tesla fan.  Always have been since I learned about his ground breaking electrical inventions and his life. 

So, I was pleased when I read this weekend the article Nikola Tesla museum campaign earns $500,000 online in two days in the The Guardian U.K (U.S. Edition, article by Adam Gabbett, August 17, 2012).  I had no idea any of this was afoot and so, I thought I'd 'pay it forward' and help the effort by posting this post.

Tesla was a Serbian born in the Austrian Empire in 1856, who in June 1884, by virtue of his extraordinary engineering talents, came to America to to work for Thomas Edison.  Tesla invented the alternating electrical current and in 1894 demonstrated short range wireless electric communication: each were firsts.  Tesla wanted to provide the world with free wireless electricity (and in 1900 was going about doing it, beginning to build the Wardenclyffe Tower to transmit it worldwide), much to his former boss and contemporary's frustration. Thomas Edison, of course became an industrialist/tycoon through the sale of his electric devices.

As students, today, learn American industrial history, Thomas Edison is an inevitable topic while Tesla is usually simply not mentioned if not actually avoided, relegated because of his obscurity to something like a mystic or cult phenomenon - which is ludicrous.  By virtue of Edison's economic success and Tesla's eventual failing health and poverty at the end of his life, Nikola Tesla's discoveries were lost to most.   The historic and scientific canons of thought (and therefore history) did not consider him as important in the story as the light bulb baron.  Yet, Tesla's discoveries and contributions to the industrialized world and even our lives, today, cannot be denied.  This man and his contributions should not just be properly lauded - a museum is just the kind of public outreach tool that would rightly clarify prior misconceptions (and erroneous assumptions about a man whose only apparent misdeed is failing to become an industrial tycoon) and instead properly get his inventions and contributions known to people, and eventually taught in the classroom.  A museum would do the trick.  Yet, no Nikola Tesla museum exists in the United States.

Where would this museum most properly be located?  Where Nikola Tesla, himself, worked - his own laboratory, that he bought in 1901 in upstate New York, which still stands today - and is now up for sale for $1.6 million.  The State of New York has promised a matching grant of $850,000 to purchase the land, to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit working, now, to build the museum, Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe (New York) if the other $850,000 can be raised from the public (eh hem, you and I).  Hence, The Guardian's article about the museum campaign - which is more than on track.  The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, the nonprofit working to create the museum, is raising more than hoped by this time.  It's getting a boost by none other than Internet cultural phenom, The Oatmeal .  His fundraising is being done through Indiegogo of which he is giving the museum 100% of the contributions he receives.  Donors can also give to purchase the land (and eventually to build the museum) through the museum's PayPal page (via either credit or bank cards or a PayPal account), or this same museum web page provides the mailing address if donors would rather postal mail checks, money orders, etc. to the museum itself, to contribute. 

If you have a spare $5 (which doesn't come cheaply, today - I know) and believe in educating the public about those who have contributed to human scientific achievements and to our quality of life, today - or if you just like scientist geeky types - then please give.  It would be good to know that the $5 that could admittedly buy you a treat like a latte with all of the fancy trimmings instead went to insure that people, today and tomorrow, learn factually about a critically important grandfather of modern day science and electricity.  If you do give, I thank you.  I hope to visit that museum!


Arlene M. Spencer said...

Forget my request for $5, above! The Oatmeal's fundraising page on Indiegogo (link above in post) asks for a minimum contribution of $3! Save $2 difference and give!

Arlene M. Spencer said...

I just donated!

Arlene M. Spencer said...

As of today, August 24 the Tesla Museum is more than on track to buy the land! They have surpassed $1 million!

If you are one of my readers, and you contributed (small donation or large), I thank you.