If a single-line tweet from Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is to be believed, the long campaign to turn eccentric scientist Nikola Tesla’s former Shoreham laboratory into a museum may have found the funding it needs to build.
In response to a web comic released Tuesday by Matthew Inman on his site The Oatmeal, in which Inman asks Musk to pay the $8 million museum organizers need, the billionaire replied on Twitter, “I would be happy to help." His response was retweeted more than 2,700 times by fans, including Tesla Science Center staff.
Inman’s comic, titled “Man vs. Motor,” argued in the comic’s usual blunt way that Musk owed the donation to the late scientist for using the Tesla name (which is in the public domain) and for using AC motors inspired by Tesla’s patented invention in the electric cars produced by Tesla Motors. The post also poked fun at Musk’s wealth, pointing out that the mogul and founder of Tesla and space exploration company SpaceX recently spent $1 million for a prop submarine car featured in the James Bond movie, “The Spy Who Loved Me.”
The Man vs. Motor post was actually the second part of Inman’s comic posted this week. In the first part, “What it’s like to own a Tesla S,” Inman breaks down his experience owning the luxury electric car, which the comic called “An Intergalactic Spaceboat of Light and Wonder.”
This is the second time Inman has gotten charged up over the Tesla museum. In 2012, he launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise the money museum organizers needed to buy the land out from potential developers. Inman’s "Operation Let's Build a [expletive] Tesla Museum” raised nearly $1.3 million from Tesla fans across the world, including Musk, Inman said in his comic. With the state matching the rest, the group was able to buy the $1.6 million property.
But with the land that once housed Tesla’s Wardenclyffe laboratory now under their control, the group needs at least another $8 million to clean up or demolish some of the structures on the land and begin the building process.
Tesla's lab, built in 1903 and designed by famed architect Stanford White, was home for the reclusive scientist until 1915. Then, in 1939, Peerless Photo Products bought the property to use as a processing plant, dumping so much chemicals into the ground that the state eventually dubbed the land a Superfund site in 1983, mandating Belgian owners Agfa to cover the costs to clean up the property to meet Department of Environmental Conservation standards.
In 2013, museum organizers dedicated a granite statue of Tesla at the site and live-streamed the event across the world. Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic also attended the Shoreham dedication of the late Serbian-American scientist’s statue.
@Oatmeal I would be happy to help— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 14, 2014