Aug 28th 2012 By: Graeme McMillan
Consider this a lesson in advanced modern economics: Internet Crowdfunding + A Long-dead Visionary Scientist Turned Folk Hero = A Museum Dedicated to Nikola Tesla Reaching Its Funding Goal 17 Years After It Got Started
(and one week after someone thought to take the idea online).
Almost two decades after a non-profit organization called the Tesla Science Center formed with the intention of restoring the scientist's final laboratory in Shoreham, New York, web cartoonist Matthew Inman launched an Indie Go Go campaign
to try and help the organization raise enough money to buy the land and laboratory and make the dream come true.
"There is currently another offer on the table from someone who wants to purchase the property potentially tear it down or turn it into a retail establishment," Inman explained on the campaign's Indie Go Go page. "There is no Tesla museum in the United States, despite Tesla's extraordinary accomplishments. If we can outbid this other person and buy the land it will permanently be protected as a historic site and eventually converted into a Nikola Tesla Science Center." The property was listed at $1.6 million, but the amount needed to buy it was only $850,000, thanks to a matching grant from New York State of up to $850,000 for the project. "Internet, this is where you come in," Inman asked. "HELP ME BUILD A GODDAMN TESLA MUSEUM."
The Internet did as it was told, taking just nine days to raise more than a million dollars toward the fund. "At its peak, the campaign was raising $27,000 per hour, crashing Indiegogo, and probably setting some kind of land speed record in awesomeness," Inman explained on his blog
Jane Alcorn, president of the Tesla Science Center, described her reaction to the fundraising as "enormously, overwhelming, astounding." She told the Washington Post
that "I kept refreshing the page and refreshing the page and the number kept going up. I went to bed after 1 that night, but I didn't really get any sleep, to be honest."
The campaign is still accepting donations through September 29
, despite having more than met its fundraising goal (At time of writing, it has raised just shy of $1,150,000); the additional funds will go towards the restoration of the property and costs related to the creation of a museum worthy of the scientist known as the father of the electric age.