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Wardenclyffe Progress: Tesla Lab Was Purchased, Now It’s Time for a Museum

Nikola Tesla was a scientist who brought us the basics of wireless power transfer, AC power, the AC motor, the polyphase system, radio circuits and radio control, frequency inductive heating, gaseous/fluorescent lighting, and electric clocks, to name a few of his innovations.

I lived only a few miles from Tesla’s Wardenclyffe laboratory in Shoreham on Long Island, N.Y., for most of my life, and I have been to the historic site there where Tesla purchased 200 acres of a former potato farm in 1901 from James Warden. Tesla’s only remaining laboratory building still stands there today. His initial goal was to establish a wireless telegraphy plant. The lab and 187-foot-high transmitter tower (with 120 feet below the ground) were constructed and financed by J.P. Morgan.

Figure 1

The Wardenclyffe Lab and Tower in 1917. (Image: Tesla Science Center)

The Wardenclyffe Lab and Tower in 1917.
(Image: Tesla Science Center)

The site was in ruins and vandalized when I visited it just before recent efforts managed to save this bit of important history. It was heart-breaking for any scientist or engineer to see such an important piece of engineering history potentially lost forever.

In 2012 an Indiegogo campaign was led by cartoonist Matthew Inman from Oatmeal and Jane Alcorn, president of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe to save Nikola Tesla’s former laboratory. They were successful. The campaign needed $850,000, and $1.37 million was raised along with a combined grant from N.Y. State for an additional $850,000. A bid was made on the property, and the lab was snatched from a developer who was going to demolish the site to make way for residences.

On September 23, 2013, a statue of Nikola Tesla was erected on the Wardenclyffe grounds and dedicated by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic.

Figure 2

A statue in honor of Nikola Tesla was erected at the site of the original Tower base. (Image: Tesla Science Center)

A statue in honor of Nikola Tesla was erected at the site of the original Tower base.
(Image: Tesla Science Center)

Now efforts to build a museum are underway. Inman wrote a cartoon review of Tesla’s Model S. Inman was asking Elon Musk to donate the balance of funds needed to restore Tesla’s lab.

Musk agreed to donate $1 million and to build a Tesla supercharger station in the museum parking lot as well if the Science Center would launch efforts to raise the rest of the funds.

As a first step towards building the museum, another Indiegogo effort is underway and has already raised more than $280,000 to begin the removal of hazardous materials from the buildings, as well as begin the renovation of the Stanford White building, which served as the laboratory and heart of Nikola Tesla's wireless energy project. This money will replace a roof and protect the lab from any further damage. So “buy a brick for Nik.”

Figure 3

Stanford White was the American architect who designed Tesla's Wardenclyffe laboratory building. This was White's last creation before he was shot and killed by Harry Thaw, the husband of a former chorus girl named Evelyn Nesbit, apparently due to a suspected affair with White. (Image: Tesla Science Center and Tesla Wardenclyffe Project)

Stanford White was the American architect who designed Tesla’s Wardenclyffe laboratory building. This was White’s last creation before he was shot and killed by Harry Thaw, the husband of a former chorus girl named Evelyn Nesbit, apparently due to a suspected affair with White.
(Image: Tesla Science Center and Tesla Wardenclyffe Project)

Eventually $10 million is needed for the completion of the museum, and they are planning some additional fundraisers in the future to meet this goal.

The Tesla Science Center is always still looking for volunteers to help with improving the site by an initial cleanup on the grounds outside the buildings.

11 comments on “Wardenclyffe Progress: Tesla Lab Was Purchased, Now It’s Time for a Museum

  1. SunitaT
    September 30, 2014

    @Steve, thanks for the update. This is really a good initiative. I just visited “Buy a brick for the Nik” website. It says $322,359USD raised of $200,000 goal. Can we still contribute to that or have they stopped receiving funds?

  2. Steve Taranovich
    September 30, 2014

    @SunitaT0–The donation site closes on November 8, so anyone can still donate—I suspect they will make more than they are asking, but the extra money will go towards the building fund of the museum which needs $10M

  3. chirshadblog
    September 30, 2014

    @Steve: Are card payments accepted or only wire transfers allowed ? 

  4. Steve Taranovich
    September 30, 2014

    @chrishadblog—I only see credit card s or PayPal payments methods. You can ask them that question here https://www.indiegogo.com/contact/questions 

  5. samicksha
    September 30, 2014

    I agree you Steve, infact one of the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who named his electric car company after Tesla, has pledged $1 million to the creation of the museum. I guess there are lot many people coming forward to support this project.

  6. Steve Taranovich
    September 30, 2014

    @samiksha—Yes, Tesla was an important man of science, but misunderstood. 

  7. yalanand
    September 30, 2014

    @Steve, when will this project get completed ? Is the museum closed now or is it still open for the general public ?

  8. yalanand
    September 30, 2014

    I guess there are lot many people coming forward to support this project.

    @samicksha, I agree with you and that is the reason crowdfunding campaign for the Nikola Tesla museum is closing in on its $200,000 goal, less than two days after it started.

  9. Steve Taranovich
    September 30, 2014

    @yalanand—-The building and grounds was Tesla's lab from 1901 to 1917. There is a long history after that—visit this website:

     

    http://www.teslasciencecenter.org/wardenclyffe/ 

     

    No museum exists right now but the goal is to turn the old lab building and grounds into a museum after $10M is collected for the construction

  10. bjcoppa
    September 30, 2014

    Science museums of this nature need to be funded more to interest the next generation in this field. That's how the fire gets started in many!

  11. Davidled
    October 15, 2014

    Company related to engineering and science might voluntarily support any technology related place in order to upgrade this science center. This place will be a treasure for future engineer and scientist. Science teacher might tour frequently this place with kids for science field trip. 

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