Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade: the story of a Great Scientist

Today we tell about a legendary scientist Nikola Tesla and about his museum in Belgrade.

Probably any person, even not interested in science, has heard at least the name of Nicola Tesla at least once. Or, you might have heard about Tesla’s car named after the great scientist. Nikola Tesla is considered a creator of electricity and a famous engineer, a genius with many inventions and patents. Different countries try to appropriate him saying “this is our scientist”. His museum tells why.
Nikola Tesla

Visiting the museum

The official website of the museum states that you need to register for the tour. But by “registering” online you in fact only get to know what time tours in different languages start. I expected that in this way it is possible to control the size of the group, but I was mistaken. When I came to the museum, there was just a crowd of people. It’s simple: more people, more money. However, the price is not so high: 500 dinars (4.5 euros). Think in advance about choosing the time for the visit. Perhaps it is better to choose the morning hours or to come at the end of the day, when most of tourists enjoy one of numerous cafes in Belgrade.
Tesla Museum

The second surprise was even more stunning. It turned out that I can’t pay with the card or with euro. Only local currency in cash! I had to run to the exchange kiosk, and then to run back. Please take Serbian money with you.

Briefly about Nikola Tesla

It would be very difficult to tell about Tesla in a short way, since his life was full of incredible stories, sometimes unconfirmed (for example, the fall of the Tunguska meteorite is often said to be the fault of his experiments), inventions and a changes of residence and companies.
Tesla biograph

The genius was born July 10, 1856 in the family of the priest Milutin Tesla in the village of Smiljan. At the moment, this village is located in Croatia. Do you remember how I said that not only the Serbs consider Tesla as their representative? Tesla continued studies in what is nowadays Croatia, first in Gospic and then in Karlovac. By the way, long time ago we visited Karlovac, and our friends brought us to this school.
Tesla biograph

During two years, from 1875 to 1877, Nikola Tesla was receiving his engineering education at a technical school in Graz. At the beginning, not everything went well for Tesla: he failed in securing scholarships at the main educational institution of the country – Matica Serbian. Then his application for scholarship in the universities of Prague and Vienna were also rejected. Sometimes his ideas looked crazy. He was forced to work in Maribor (present-day Slovenia), but not for a long time: having insufficient funds to support himself, he was expelled by the city administration and returned to Gospic under police escort. According to Tesla’s autobiography, he was a gambler when he was young.
Only two years later, he began his studies in the University of Prague. And a year later, in 1881 he moved to Budapest, where he began to work in the telephone company. In 1882, Tesla reached the first significant result: he discovered the principle of creating a magnetic electric field with alternating current, or the principle of an electric motor.
principle of an electric motor

principle of an electric motor

After this, Tesla started working in Edison’s company. Edison was an American inventor with a bunch of patents, but mostly associated with an incandescent light bulb. Having worked in the European division, Nikola Tesla ended up in the USA, inventing in 1893 the world’s first induction motor. He arrived at Edison with the following recommendation: “I know two great people, and you are one of them; the second one is this young man.” As it usually happens, the opinion of two great scientists diverged, which turned into a “war of currents”, in which Tesla adhered to the ideas of introducing alternating current. As a result, in 1985, Nicola opened his first company in New York. Then there were inventions, patents, discoveries… In 1891, the scientist received American citizenship. Little wonder that US people consider Tesla as their scientist too.
Tesla biography

Then there were tours around the world with lectures, recognition and applause. In 1982, he visited his home town for the last time and Belgrade – for the first and the only time. Then his patents and inventions continued, including the most well-known inventions in the world today: engines, a hydroelectric power plant prototype, a radio-controlled boat, etc. And this was in 1898! Only recently, scientists began to work with autonomous airplanes, cars and the same boats. There was a fire in his laboratory in 1895, which destroyed many prototypes and documentation of the scientist.
Tesla biography

In 1899, the laboratory for experiments on the transmission of electricity without power lines (over the earth and the air) was open. However, such huge experiments required a lot of money. Unfortunately for Tesla, and maybe for us, the funding soon ceased. Tesla continued to create: the invention of the speedometer, the design of the fountain, patents for hair dryers, compressors and pumps, work with the industry, the proposal of a new engine concept for cars, wireless charging, patents in chemical industry … Have I said that it is not possible to tell about him in brief? The last patent of Nikola Tesla in 1928 was “Apparatus for Aerial Transportation”. It was a prototype of a helicopter.
Tesla patents. Pump

Tesla patents. Speedometer

Tesla patents. Motor

In 1935-1938, Tesla signed a contract with the Soviet Union to work on a defense project. The aim was the installation which generates an impenetrable wall, or direct a beam of energy in order to destroy the target at a distance of 150 km. In 1936, he was hit by a taxi in NY, and in fact could not return to the previous rhythm of life after the injury. In 1942, Nikola Tesla died at the age of 86 in New York. Later, in 1960, Tesla’s name joined the ranks of such great scientists as Newton, Volta, Ampere, as the international unit of Tesla was named in his honor.
Tesla stamp

Museum and exhibitions

The museum of the great scientist, on the contrary, turned out to be very small and modest. First, you watch a film with a story about the biography of the inventor. As I have already said, there was a crowd of people, they let everyone in, so I watched the movie somewhere on the side, squatting, and then, I just sat down on the floor.
Nikola Tesla museum

Then a few experiments were be shown. Some lucky visitors were allowed to hold fluorescent lamps, and when the generator was turned on in darkness, the lamps lit up like Jedi swords.

This is how you can transfer energy.

They will also show you a radio-controlled boat. I personally did not see anything since there was no way to get to the stand.

In fairness, our guide conducted the third experience with everyone who wanted. This is how I managed to play the role of an electrode.

Honestly, I can’t say that I was very impressed, because while working at the university, I visited high-voltage laboratories in many countries. This is the minimum basic set of a “show” which is demonstrated for guests during open days. So come to see it in Taltech or any other technical university! 🙂
Taltech high-voltage laboratory

For independent study, there is a room with the personal belongings of the scientist, as well as Tesla’s patents scattered throughout the space around the experimental facilities.
Nikola Tesla museum

Nikola Tesla museum

Nikola Tesla museum

Nikola Tesla museum

A ball with the ashes of a scientist is stored here as well.

In general, I liked the museum, even despite all the disadvantages that I have outlined here. I think if you come at the right moment, you will have a great time here, be amazed at the genius of Tesla and truly imbued with the spirit of science.