Decades after his passing, Nikola Tesla may finally be getting his due. Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, CEO of electric car company Tesla Motors, has pledged $1 million in funding for a new Tesla museum to be built on the grounds of the inventor’s only remaining laboratory at Wardenclyffe in Long Island, New York. The announcement was made at his birthday celebration on the historic site.
Today’s birthday festivities included period songs, flag raisings, speeches and, of course, birthday cake. Pigeons were also released in honor of Tesla’s love for the birds. Many speeches commemorated his contributions and achievements in electricity and wireless communication. Local officials declared July 10 as “Tesla Day” in the village of Shoreham, in Long Island’s Suffolk County, and “all around the world, now and forever.”
Not bad for Tesla’s 158th birthday.
When museum organizers purchased the Wardenclyffe property in 2012, located where Tesla once built a 187-foot transmitter tower to experiment with sending messages and distributing wireless electricity, it was severely neglected. It took many local resident volunteers to clean the site. But with this most recent donation, the new Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, will feature his inventions and their impact on people’s lives today, a “hacker lab” where amateur inventors can build prototypes, and an innovation station where entrepreneurs can turn these ideas into real products.
The donation came at the request of “The Oatmeal” creator, Matthew Inman. In 2012, Inman’s comic argued that Tesla was “the greatest geek who ever lived.” This sparked a 45-day Indiegogo campaign to raise $850,000 to save the Wardenclyffe site from being sold to developers. The grassroots initiative ended up raising more than $1 million after only nine days. In addition to its successful crowdfunding campaign, the museum is launching a new fundraising initiative called “Buy a brick for Nik.” People can purchase and personally inscribe a brick to be used in the construction of the new museum and surrounding grounds.