There is a place in Belgrade that I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time. Remarkably, I have never been there. Not even when I lived in Belgrade, before I moved to London. If you asked me why, I wouldn’t know what to say. Perhaps, I thought of it as a place that was right there and very easy to visit. But somehow, I never actually managed to do it. Until now! The place that I am talking about is Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.
So, on the occasion of my latest visit to the Serbian capital, I finally visited this museum. I went there three times before I managed to enter. The museum is extremely popular, especially with foreign tourists. The first two times available museum tours were not convenient for me. The third time, I was lucky. But, more about this later in the post.
Everyone knows who Nikola Tesla is. So, this post is not about Nikola Tesla. Whoever wants to learn more about the great Serbian-American scientist, there is an ample information on his life and work available on the internet.
Rather, this post is about the museum and my experience there.
1. THE MUSEUM
The museum is this beautiful villa in Krunska Street 51. It is very close to Slavia Square and very easy to find. It is a small museum. As a matter of fact, the museum is just the ground floor of this villa, the upper floors are offices and staff rooms.
2. NIKOLA TESLA
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), was a Serbian-American inventor and scientist, a pioneer in electrification, who significantly influenced the technological development of our civilisation by his poly-phase system inventions. That system is a cornerstone of the modern electro-energetic system of production, long distance transmission and usage of electrical currents, electricity and communication.
Since the beginning of its exploitation towards the end of last century until now, the poly-phase system, together with the asynchronous motor, has been perfected and improved to remarkable and inconceivable dimensions.
He was a very imaginative scientist whose ideas led to many important discoveries without which our civilisation would lack many of its technological comforts (radio, radar, television, all kinds of motors, high frequency fields, coils, computers). Some of his ideas are still to be realised.
He was born in the village of Smiljan in Lika, which was at the time within the Hapsburg Empire under the Emperor Franz Joseph I.
3. MUSEUM TOUR
The museum tour starts with an excellent 15 minutes film presentation about Nikola Tesla’s life and achievements.
In that same room there are several very interesting exhibits. One of them is the original nameplate from a two-phase generator in the Niagara Falls.
The nameplate lists 13 patents, of which 9 belonged to Nikola Tesla.
Another interesting exhibit is the induction motor with a short circuit rotor.
Next to it there is a model of the induction motor with an egg-shaped rotor, better known as “Tesla’s Egg of Columbus”. In a photo of the projector room, you can see these motors below the screen.
The absolute star of the museum and the most interesting exhibit is Tesla’s 500 KV oscillating transformer. Just to see this transformer switched on and working is more than enough. What happens is that they give you neon bulbs that you can see in a below photo and while the transformer is working, the bulbs light up in your hands. It basically demonstrates wireless transmission of energy! The experiment is absolutely mesmerising!
In that same room there several more models of Tesla’s inventions. It’s a part of the museum where several more experiments are done.
Additionally, his remote-controlled boat with “AND” logic Gate is equally fascinating.
This transformer is a smaller version of the previously mentioned, more powerful oscillating transformer.
4. TESLA’S BELONGINGS
The other part of the museum is dedicated to Tesla’s life. It is also interesting to see it.
The bust of Nikola Tesla was made by the great Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović.
You can also see various personal items that belonged to Nikola Tesla.
Tesla’s nephew, Sava Kosanović, shipped his entire estate to Belgrade in 80 trunks marked N.T. in 1952.
In a photo below you can see his boots, his hat, gloves and belt.
Tesla was 1.88m tall and his suit is also exhibited.
Tesla died on the 7th January 1943, at the age of 86. He died alone in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel. The safe in a photo below was in his room where he died.
Tesla’s ashes were transported from the United States to Belgrade in 1957. The ashes are displayed in the museum, in a gold-plated sphere on a marble pedestal. There are other museums in the world dedicated to him, but the urn with his ashes makes the Belgrade museum the only legitimate Nikola Tesla museum.
5. HOW TO VISIT THE MUSEUM
Now, a word about how to visit the museum. It is a very popular museum, with more than 135000 visitors annually. As you can see in a photo below, you can enter at 10am, 11am, noon, 1pm, 2pm and so on. Additionally, tours are either in Serbian or in English language. It is important that you choose a tour in a language that you understand. You will be able to follow the explanations and especially the experiments.
In a below photo, tours in blue were in English and in orange in Serbian. I attended the tour in Serbian. The entrance is 500 dinars, which is just more than 4 euros. The museum only accepts cash.
Nikola Tesla’s Archive consists of a unique collection of manuscripts, photographs, scientific and patent documentation which is indispensable in studying the history of electrification of our world.
In his honour, the magnetic induction unit (tesla) of the SI system is named after him.
The collection documents the most important era in the history of development of the modern world, which thanks to the Tesla system, made easy energy production and distribution possible.
His archives, held in the museum in Belgrade, were included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2003.
If you go to Belgrade, do not miss this small, but very precious museum. Personally, I am very glad that I finally managed to visit it. Learning about this great person and seeing some of the experiments will certainly blow your mind.
Also, the concept of wireless transmission of electricity is something that I am still trying to fully comprehend …