Fans of scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla, science buffs everywhere, and famed webcomic artist Matthew Inman, a.k.a. The Oatmeal, all got their wish Friday when the Tesla Science Center finally purchased the land it needed to “build a goddamn Tesla museum.”
The idea—”let’s build a goddamn Tesla museum”—ignited the Internet two months ago when Inman suggested that his readers chip in and help out the Tesla Science Center, which had for many years been struggling to purchase the Shoreham, N.Y. land upon which Tesla’s last science laboratory stood. Faced with the threat of retail development, the lab stood in danger of being lost forever to commercial interests.
Tesla has captured the public imagination in the latter half of the 20th century, as his cultural status as the recurring underdog to Thomas Edison paid off via his entry into pop culture: He’s been the subject of popular webcomics, documentaries, even his own comic book. Inman, whose comic celebrating Tesla had already become a viral sensation, was the perfect accidental hero for the cause. Donations poured in, and even temporarily crashed the site.
The Tesla Science Center and the Tesla documentary Fragments From Olympus, whose director Joseph Sikorski pooled funds for the $33,333 donation that put the Indiegogo campaign over the top, issued a joint press release announcing that “thanks to a viral crowdfunding campaign” they now had the funds to purchase the land and the lab:
The Indiegogo “Letʼs Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum” online campaign started by The Oatmealʼs Matthew Inman (a popular internet comic strip artist) has resulted in an astounding $1,370,511, well exceeding the project goal of $850,000. The funds, which will now free up a NY State reimbursement grant of $850,000, will allow the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, a local non-profit organization, to purchase the property and begin the restoration that will transform the site into a world-class museum.
The campaign spawned a plethora of last-minute donations and matching grants. A man named Dusan Stojanovic, who is himself Tesla’s distant relative, matched Sikorski’s donation of $33,333, while New York State honored its original pledge to put up the other half of the original $1.5 million dollars needed for the purchase.
The additional funds should allow the Tesla Society to begin renovating the dilapidated laboratory en route to its eventual new role: America’s first and only Tesla museum.
"Building a science center will take a lot more time and money, so in the interim Iʼd love to have a Nikola Tesla Festival on Nikola Tesla Day (July 10),” said Inman. “Itʼd just be a big one-day outdoor event.”
A giant party for Tesla, you say? Something tells us fans will have no trouble chipping in for that.
Image via Ravé Mehta / The Inventors
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