Back in August, I wrote about a project to build a museum in honor of Nikola Tesla, on the site of his former laboratory in Shoreham NY, on Long Island. A non-profit group called the Tesla Science Center had announced the plan when the property, which is owned by the Agfa Corporation, first came on the market in 2009. The group had difficulty raising funds (the economic climate was hardly helpful), but has recently received a boost from a “crowd-sourced” fund raising effort launched by Matthew Inman, founder of The Oatmeal site.
On Friday, The New York Times reported that the group, having secured the necessary funding, had concluded an agreement to purchase the site.
A dream of 16 years came true for science enthusiasts on Friday when they struck a deal to buy a dilapidated estate on Long Island and transform it into a museum and educational memorial to Nikola Tesla, an eccentric genius who lit the world with alternating current but died penniless.
(Ars Technica also has an article on the acquisition.)
Individual contributions to the project were received from more than 100 countries, amounting to approximately $1.4 million. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but the asking price for the property had been $1.6 million.
Tesla’s laboratory building, which was designed by the noted architect Stanford White, is still standing, although it is a bit down at the heel. The estate, which Tesla called “Wardenclyffe”, at one time had an 18-story tower, which Tesla planned to use for experiments in wireless power transmission; unfortunately, when Tesla sold the property to pay his debts in 1917, the new owners had the tower blown up and sold it for scrap.
There is obviously still a great deal of work, not to mention fund raising, to be done before the museum becomes a reality. Nonetheless, it is good to see that Tesla’s work may get some more recognition. He was, by all accounts, a rather eccentric character, but he was also a first-rate scientist.