Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe

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Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe
Wardenclyffe Tower.jpg
Location Tesla Street, East Shoreham, NY 11786
Coordinates 40°56′54″N 72°53′54″W / 40.948401°N 72.898248°W / 40.948401; -72.898248
Director Jane Alcorn
Website teslasciencecenter.org

The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe is a nonprofit organization established to develop a regional science and technology center at the site of Nikola Tesla's former Wardenclyffe laboratory on Long Island, New York.[1] The center raised money through crowdfunding to purchase the property.


Early history of the site[edit]

In 1898, electrical engineer, inventor, and pioneer of electrical power technology, Nikola Tesla began planning and designing the Wardenclyffe Tower, a wireless transmission tower intended for commercial trans-Atlantic wireless telephony, broadcasting, and proof-of-concept demonstrations of wireless power transmission.[2] [3]

In 1901 construction began on the land near Long Island Sound, with initial funding from J. P. Morgan and other venture capitalists.[4]

In June 1902 Tesla moved his laboratory from Manhattan to Wardenclyffe but the project ran into many problems including numerous design changes. In 1903 Guglielmo Marconi's wireless system was making regular transatlantic transmission with far less expensive equipment. That, plus a downturn on wall street,[5] caused financing to start drying up for Tesla's project. Tesla tried to generate more interest in Wardenclyffe by revealing its ability to transmit wireless electricity, but Morgan and other financiers such as John Jacob Astor were reluctant to come forward with more money. By July 1904 the investors ceased additional financing. In May 1905, Tesla's patents on alternating current motors and other methods of power transmission expired, halting royalty payments and causing a severe reduction in the funds he had to put toward the Wardenclyffe Project and most of the site's activity had to be shut down for lack of funding. Attempts to resurrect the project failed and the facility was partially abandoned around 1911, and the tower structure ultimately deteriorated. The transmission tower was never fully operational.[6]

More recently, the Wardenclyffe site became a processing facility for a photography company. Eventually the site was turned into a Superfund hazardous waste site, taking years to clean up. [7]

In 1994, acting on the advice of the President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a formal nomination process was initiated by the Tesla Wardenclyffe Project seeking placement of the Wardenclyffe laboratory-office building and the Tesla tower foundation on both the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. This would result in the creation of a monument to Tesla out of the Wardenclyffe site itself.[8]

As of August 2012, the site was owned by Agfa.[9]

Funding effort[edit]

Jane Alcorn, president of the nonprofit group The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, and Matthew Inman, creator of web cartoon The Oatmeal, joined forces in 2012 to honor "the Father of the Electric Age", by preserving the Wardenclyffe facility as a science center and museum. They initiated the Let's Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum fund-raising campaign on the Indiegogo crowdfunding site, to raise funding to buy the Wardenclyffe property and restore the facility. The project reached its goal of raising $850,000 within a week, after a $33,333 donation from the producers of the Tesla film "Fragments from Olympus-The Vision of Nikola Tesla" put them over the top. The campaign also attracted donations from benefactors such as Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors.[10]

The money raised within one week was enough to get a matching grant from the state of New York, allowing the project to be able to meet the seller's asking price of $1.6 million.[10][7] Including the grant, the crowdfunding campaign raised approximately $1,700,000 in six days, with the campaign originally slated to run 45 days.[11]

On May 2, 2013, The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe announced that they had purchased the 15.69 acre laboratory site from Agfa Corporation and will begin to raise "about $10 million to create a science learning center and museum worthy of Tesla and his legacy."[12]

On May 13th, 2014, The Oatmeal published a comic called "What It's Like to Own a Model S, Part 2," in which he requested a further donation of $8 million from Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk in order to propel the museum toward completion.[13] The next day, Musk stated on Twitter that he "would be happy to help."[14] On July 10, 2014, during a 158th birthday celebration for Tesla at the Wardenclyffe site, it was announced that Musk would donate $1 million toward funding the museum, as well as having a Tesla Motors supercharging station installed onsite.[15]

Programs and exhibits[edit]

The center plans to offer several programs, including science teacher associations, conferences, symposia, field trips, associations with science competitions, and other science programs.

Planned permanent exhibits include a Tesla exhibit, exploratorium-type exhibits, and a living museum.[1]

On 23 September 2013, the president of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolić, unveiled a monument to Tesla at the Wardenclyffe site. Nikolić said that he had planned to push for the monument to be displayed at the United Nations, but chose Wardenclyffe once he learned it had been purchased for the center.[16]


  1. ^ a b "About Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe". Friends of Science East, Inc. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Anderson, Leland I., ed. (July 2002). Nikola Tesla on His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power: An Extended Interview. Twenty First Century Books. pp. 106, 153, 170. ISBN 978-1893817012. 
  3. ^ "The Future of the Wireless Art," Wireless Telegraphy & Telephony, Van Nostrand, 1908
  4. ^ Broad, William J. (May 4, 2009). "A Battle to Preserve a Visionary’s Bold Failure". New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2009. 
  5. ^ Cheney, Margaret (2011). Tesla: Man Out of Time. pp. 203 – 208. ISBN 978-0743215367. 
  6. ^ Cheney, Margaret (1999), Tesla  Master of Lightning, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, ISBN 0-7607-1005-8, p. 107.; “Unable to overcome his financial burdens, he was forced to close the laboratory in 1905.”
  7. ^ a b Greenfieldboyce, Nell (24 August 2012). "Zap! Cartoonist Raises $1 Million For Tesla Museum". NPR. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "A MUSEUM AT WARDENCLYFFE The Creation of a Monument to Nikola TeslaT". Tesla Wardenclyffe Project, Inc. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  9. ^ Li, Anita (22 August 2012). "The Oatmeal's Tesla Museum Campaign Hits Goal". Mashable. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Frum, Larry (21 August 2012). "Backers raise cash for Tesla museum honoring 'cult hero'". CNN. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Tesla museum campaign exceeds fund-raising target". BBC News. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Press Release: Tesla Wardenclyffe Laboratory Purchased For Museum
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Elon Musk Will Help Fund Tesla Museum
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ Gabbatt, Adam; Popovich, Nadja (24 September 2013). "Serbian president unveils Nikola Tesla monument in New York". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 

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