Nikola Tesla Museum

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The Nikola Tesla Museum (Serbian: ????? ?????? ????? / Muzej Nikole Tesle) is dedicated to honoring and displaying the life and work of Nikola Tesla. It is located in the central area of Belgrade, Serbia. It holds more than 160,000 original documents, over 2,000 books and journals, over 1,200 historical technical exhibits, over 1,500 photographs and photo plates of original, technical objects, instruments and apparatus, and over 1,000 plans and drawings. The Nikola Tesla Archive was inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme Register in 2003 due to its critical role regarding history of electrification of the world and future technological advancements in this area.<ref name=mow>Template:Cite web</ref>


The Nikola Tesla Museum is housed in a residential villa built in 1927 according to the designs of Dragiša Brašovan, a distinguished Serbian architect. The building was used for various purposes until December 5, 1952, when the Nikola Tesla Museum was founded in accordance with the decision of the Government of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. The material for the museum was shipped from New York City to Belgrade, Yugoslavia, on September 7, 1951, as a result of efforts by Sava Kosanovic, Tesla's nephew and closest relative and his attorney, Philip Wittenberg.

Over the past 60 years, a number of his papers<ref name=its>Template:Cite web</ref><ref name=tms>Template:Cite web</ref> have suffered water damageTemplate:Failed verification. This has led historians to consider it a disservice to Tesla that his trunks were removed from the United States of America. With renewed worldwide interest in Tesla's work in the areas of mechanical and electrical engineering, full and unhindered access to his work is desired. Yet, many original documents are uncataloged, and may have been lost, stolen, censored or damaged.Template:Citation needed


The Nikola Tesla Museum is charged with preserving and displaying the legacy of Nikola Tesla. The present director is Vladimir Jelenkovi?.


The permanent exhibition was arranged in 1955. From time to time there have been some modifications, but for many years the basic concept has remained the same. Its first part is primarily a memorial exhibition, while the second part is an interactive one, with three-dimensional models of Tesla's inventions. From time to time, the museum organizes thematic exhibitions of documents, photographs and other material in order to display some periods from Tesla's inventive life.


The Nikola Tesla Museum was under reconstruction, which started November 3, 2006. The first phase of the project was supposed to have been complete by the end of 2006. The garden on the roof of the museum is to be closed from the outside by glass windows, which will turn the roof into a computer room. This reconstitution is now completed and the museum is available to visit now.


The museum is divided into seven separate ground-floor rooms, with different themes, exponents, photographs and Tesla's ashes, plus a second floor housing the original physical record of Tesla's work in the areas of electrical and mechanical engineering.

Ground Floor

Room 1 - Nikola Tesla: a man and a creator

The life story of Nikola Tesla begins with the large-scale photograph from his period of studies in Graz, Austria. Three personal documents are placed under the photograph, his birth certificate, his Abitur certificate from the secondary school at Karlovac, and the passport he travelled with to New York in 1884. There is also a photograph of the house he was born in, and of the church where his father was the parish priest. A series of selected letters, placed on both sides of the photograph, witnesses the highest acknowledgements expressed to Tesla by the greatest scientists of his time: Albert Einstein, William Crookes, Lord Kelvin, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, Robert A. Millikan, Lee de Forest, Edwin H. Armstrong, Arthur H. Compton, Arthur E. Kennelly, Popov and Pupin.

Room 2 - Personal things and correspondence

Some small things from Tesla's personal effects are selected to depict his personality, way of living and relations with other people. In the show-cases are his hat, his travelling bag and small every-day items such as invitations, theatre entrance tickets, membership cards etc. He kept a piece of needlework made by his mother, the embroidered bag typical for his native land, Lika in Croatia. Selected documents and photographs from correspondence with friends, writers and artists—George Westinghouse, Mark Twain, Robert Underwood Johnson, and others—are also in the show-case. Belgrade newspapers' account of Tesla's visit to Belgrade in 1892 are also displayed, as well as the letters from Laza Kosti?, a distinguished Serbian poet. Photographs of Tesla's father, Milutin, sisters Marica, Angelina and Milka, uncle, Nikola and great-grandfather, Toma are displayed in a separate show-case. Documents of his death and funeral in New York City in 1943 are contained in the last show-case.

Room 3 - Urn with Tesla's ashes

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The urn that contains Tesla's ashes

In the third room of the museum, Tesla's ashes reside in a gold-plated spherical urn on a marble pedestal. After his death in 1943, Tesla was cremated. His remains were moved to Belgrade in 1957.

Room 4 - "A Fairy Tale of Electricity"

The fourth room contains Tesla's "Fairy Tale of Electricity" - an historical survey of man's achievement in exploring the secrets of electricity; patents in the field of electro-energetic - Tesla's invention of the polyphase induction motor and a model of his system of electricity generation, transmission and distribution of electrical energy; patents in the field of high-voltage oil transformers, and in the field of mechanical engineering, turbines.

Room 5 - The polyphase system and its application

A series of interactive models illustrating the origin of the idea of the rotating magnetic field is exhibited in the fifth room, including the rotation of a copper plate by induced currents, the experiment of François Arago from 1825 in which a rotating plate of copper tends to communicate its motion to a magnetic needle suspended over it, the Baily motor with commutated direct currents and static electromagnets (1879) and Tesla two-phase generator, together with the models of synchronous and asynchronous motor operated by two-phase alternating currents.

The hydraulic analogy, made according to an idea of Tesla's, acquaints visitors with his conception of the physical principles of the rotating magnetic field, visually demonstrating the vectorial addition of two identical sine curves, perpendicular to each other, with the phase difference of 90°.

In 1893, at the World's Columbian Exposition, Tesla's Egg of Columbus was used demonstrated the induction motor principle by spinning an egg-shaped rotor in a rotating magnetic field. This model, together with the working model of the first genuine induction motor with a short-circuit rotor, depicts the most important part of the Tesla polyphase system.

Tesla's patents laid the foundation for the construction of new generators of polyphase currents. This is evidenced by the identification plate of one of the electric generators of the hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls (1899), placed next to the model of the system. The date of bringing the Adams Power Plant generators on-line marks a milestone in the electrification of the world. The small-scale model of the hydro-energetic system with three-phase currents placed in this room demonstrates all the essential elements of this invention.

The story of Tesla's inventions is continued with the Tesla turbine (bladeless turbine), pump and speed indicator constructed 1913 - 1916 on the same principle. Tesla occupied himself for more than twenty years improving them, and it was not until the end of 20th century that these inventions began attracting attention among scientists and engineers.

Room 6 - The Tesla transformer and wireless transmission

The sixth room exhibits Tesla's inventions in the field of high-frequency currents and high-potential. Tesla produced alternating currents of several tens of thousands cycles per second and several million volts. With these currents he experimented in his New York City laboratories and at Colorado Springs, Colorado. The results of these experiments were published in "Colorado Springs Notes".

The high-frequency oscillator coupled with a large power supply transformer is placed in the middle of the room. It was built in 1955 in accordance with technical descriptions from the Colorado Springs Experimental Station. Its electrical potential reaches roughly 200,000 volts, and for half a century it has impressed visitors and fascinated children.

Beside the great oscillator there is also a smaller one, such as Tesla used in experiments with electrical discharges in tubes filled with rarefied gases. The results of these experiments laid foundations for contemporary fluorescent lighting and high-energy particle research. These experiments are not well known even among specialists. Likewise it is also unknown that Wilhelm Röntgen was fascinated with X-ray images of the human body he received from Tesla, obtained with X-ray tubes operated with high-frequency currents.

Tesla performed his most significant experiments with currents of high-frequency and high-potential in the field of wireless transmission of electrical energy. On display is a model of the four concatenated tuned circuits that are the foundation of practical wireless transmission. Next to the model is the quotation from the finding of the United States Supreme Court of 1943, acknowledging Tesla's priority over Guglielmo Marconi in this area.

Room 7 - Remote control and awards

Tesla's investigations in the field of remote control are represented with the reconstructed working model of a small boat. This patented design was used in his 1898 New York experiments demonstrating the possibilities of wireless control of moving of mechanical devices, such as land vehicles, boats and aircraft.

The large photograph of the Wardenclyffe Tower (Tesla Tower) in the village of Shoreham on Long Island, New York depicts his intention to construct a transmitting station for particular purposes. That station was built in 1900 for wireless trans-Atlantic telephony, to broadcast news and music, to transmit text and images, and also to demonstrate the feasibility of large-scale electrical power transmission. This plan remains unrealized.

Numerous decorations, honorary diplomas and awards exhibited in the last part of the exhibition symbolize the significance of his inventions. However, his greatest award was granted to him post-mortem. The General Conference on Weights and Measures for the International System of Units dedicated the term "tesla" to the SI unit measure for magnetic field strength at its session in Philadelphia in 1960. In this way, Tesla shared the honor given to such outstanding scientists as Volta, Ampere, Faraday, Henry, Watt, Ohm, Coulomb, Kelvin, Gauss, Weber and Jansky.

The funerary mask of Nikola Tesla's face is the last exhibit, and next to it is the quotation of the American inventor E. Armstrong: "The World, I think, will wait a long time for Nikola Tesla's equal in achievement and imagination."

Second floor

The whole intellectual inheritance of Tesla is situated on the second floor of the building. It includes his manuscripts and drawings, correspondence with over 6,700 different persons, books and the valuable clippings from periodicals and newspapers that published articles about Tesla or about scientific and technical problems in which he was interested.

Nikola Tesla Museum Catalogue of Documents

The first Nikola Tesla Museum Catalogue of Documents with commentaries was produced under the guidance of Professor Veljko Korac, Director of the Nikola Tesla Museum between 1952 and 1980. Around 150,000 of the approximately 160,000 existing documents were registered. Since 1990 a new Nikola Tesla Museum Catalogue of Documents has been under development, currently in the form of a searchable computer database.


See also

  • Nikola Tesla
  • Wardenclyffe tower
  • Wireless energy transmission
  • Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe



External links

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