This is an update to the ongoing progress of trying to save Nikola Tesla’s lab at Wardenclyffe.
A campaign issued by the well-known comic creator of The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman, was established to raise enough money to purchase Nikola Tesla’s laboratory. It ended with incredible success. As we originally reported, a non-profit sought to raise $850,000 in order to match a grant of the same amount by the State of New York to secure the $1.6 million property and keep it out of the hands of a potential real estate developer who had put in an offer that might have erased the site and legacy of a genius whose inventions transformed our world.
The Guardian reported that $500,000 had been raised in just the first few days of Inman’s effort. The final amount donated surged to $1,370,511 by the end of the 45-day campaign.
The attention that this campaign has generated is nothing short of incredible . . . especially since it’s a battle that has been going on for 18 years.
In 9 days, we managed to raise over 1 million dollars to go towards buying back Tesla’s old laboratory, and with the $850,000 matching grant from NY state this puts us at 1.85 million bucks. At its peak, the campaign was raising $27,000 per hour, crashing Indiegogo, and probably setting some kind of land speed record in awesomeness. Indiegogo put together this infographic showing some interesting data points behind the campaign.
So what happens next? (Source)
The non-profit behind this project is beginning the phases of putting in a bid on the property.
Excellent, yes? YES.
The campaign even attracted the attention of a distant relative of Tesla’s, Dusan Stojanovic who matched donations in the final days. Inman adds:
Mr. Stojanovic is an angel investor who would like people to be inspired by Tesla and be part of innovating for the future by continuing Tesla’s work, particularly towards solving global energy problems . . .
The campaign successfully exceeded its goal.
Now, after 18 years being sought by a non-profit called “Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe” to put the property back into the hands of the public, campaign creator Inman is reporting the happy news that it has officially been purchased with the funds raised. Inman stresses the significance:
This campaign wasn’t about crowd-funding a video game or financing a start-up or creating a fancy new gadget. It was about righting a wrong. It was a way for everyone to collectively say, “Mr. Tesla, we’re sorry humanity forgot about you for a little while. We still love you lots. Here’s a Goddamn Museum.”
Representatives of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe organization voiced their amazement and appreciation for the outpouring of support:
“I’m grateful. We’re still absorbing the reality of it, but we’re delighted,” Alcorn said. “We’re certainly excited, and our next job is to start planning the next order of business.”
“Here we are almost a hundred years later, and now the property has come back into the sphere of influence of Nikola Tesla,” said David Madigan, a board member of the Tesla Science Center nonprofit. “It’s a satisfying feeling.”
“We have evaluations yet to do, decisions to make about what buildings to adapt,” Alcorn said. “There’s a long process ahead, and a lot more money to raise.” (Source)
The property is secure, but the work to build the museum has just begun. As stated on the campain site:
The remainder of the money from the campaign will be used to clean up and begin renovations on the property, but actually turning it into a museum is going to cost quite a bit more.
The non-profit behind this project has a site plan to turn the land into a science center. They don’t want this to become a stagnant museum where you visit once and then never go back. Instead, they want it to be a place with rotating exhibits, classes, and working space for entrepreneurs, researchers, and students.
Unfortunately, the land is covered by a derelict, asbestos-laden factory space that was built by a photo processing company who previously occupied the property. Building the museum would require either renovating or demolishing all of these structures and preserving the original Stanford White structure that originally housed Tesla’s laboratory.
This is going to take time and a lot more money. Furthermore, there are believed to be tunnels underneath the property that were built by Tesla and may still house some of his equipment, and we want to be able to examine and excavate these underground chambers before building anything on top of it. There are rumors of a huge underground resonance chamber, and although I don’t know what an underground resonance chamber is exactly I’m fairly certain it’s both terrifying and awesome.
When can I visit the museum?
Although the actual science center is going to take a lot more time to finance and build, in the interim we’re planning on having an event in Shoreham, New York hopefully this summer. We’re still figuring out the details, but this would be a two day event and will have musical performances, lectures, interactive exhibits, and guided tours of the property (I’m going to be one of the tour guides). The event will focus on science, technology, and innovation. If you’re interested in speaking, please contact us.
Also, I own a fully functional Tesla coil cannon and I plan to BBQ some Sriracha-bacon sandwiches by shooting them with its 20,000 volt electric arc, so the event will be both scientific and delicious. Again, we’re shooting for this summer but we haven’t pinned down a date yet. I’ll post the details about the event as soon as I have them. (Source)
Please watch the video below for some recent news coverage, and consider donating if you have it in your budget to help reinvigorate a very important part of the history of technology, and present a new repository of information for people to learn more about this largely forgotten inventor, his amazing work, and his tragic story as he fell prey to corporate power brokers.
A big thank you to all of those who so generously donated to this endeavor.
Here is media coverage of the initiative to save Tesla’s lab: