Belgrade is home to one of the most exquisite museums on the Serbian territory: the Nikola Tesla Museum. This museum is dedicated to the engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) who had made more than 300 revolutionary discoveries, the majority of them related to electricity and magnetism.
His discoveries led to technological progress. He was the one to use alternate currents to produce and distribute electricity, and the one to invent the rotating magnetic field. Because of this, the unit for the magnetic induction (in the International System of Units) is named after him: ‘tesla.’ You might be familiar with the fact that Tesla was the inventor of the high-voltage coreless transformer which at present bears the name of ‘Tesla Coil.’
The museum is situated in Belgrade, right in the center of city. The edifice which holds the exhibitions is a 1929 residential villa which was erected after the architectural plan developed by Dragiša Brašovan, a renowned Serbian architect. The Nikola Tesla Museum came into being due to a governmental decision made in 1952.
All the items found inside the museum were transferred to Belgrade from America due to Tesla’s wish. Tesla was actually an American with Serbian origin so he lived in the US. After his death, all his belongings became the property of his nephew, Sava Kosanovic, whom the American court had declared the rightful heir of Nikola Tesla. Kosanovic respected his uncle’s wish and he donated the items to the Serbian state. Thus, the museum is the singular one of its kind, where the legacy of Nikola Tesla can be witnessed first-handedly.
This includes original documents (more than 160.000), books and journals (more than 2.000), plans and drawings (more than 1.000), photographs illustrating different types of machines, tools, and technical objects, as well as technical exhibits. All these collections are meant to recreate step by step the professional evolution of Nikola Tesla and to pinpoint the ground-breaking findings of the great engineer and inventor.
It is also noteworthy that the museum provides valuable information regarding the history of science, this being a place where researchers and scientists can find answers to questions they might have in the field. The documents encountered at the museum can serve as the foundation for future discoveries. But more so, one can grasp the meaning of Tesla’s contribution to the world of engineering and science.
The museum has become a part of the Memory of the Word Program – a program initiated by UNESCO in order to preserve the documentary heritage, to protect it against all the damages that it might be subjected to, either conducted by humans or by the unforgiving hands of time.
It is a rather uncommon situation that the documents of Tesla have traveled so far from their actual ‘home.’ Tesla, as it has been mentioned previously, was an American citizen and his connection to Serbia consisted only of the fact that he lived there for no more than 31 hours. And yet, it is the Serbians who are the safeguards of Tesla’s heritage.
Throughout time, several of the original documents found inside the archives have been deteriorated due to the fact that they were not adequately preserved inside the museum. Because of this, historians have reached the conclusion that it was probably not such a great idea to transport the works of Tesla to Serbia, as here these were not properly looked after. Whether or not this is a valid argument, is debatable.
The fact remains that Nikola Tesla Museum contains valuable papers and items belonging to the great inventor and engineer and that tourists have the chance to have a closer look at these upon their visit to Belgrade.
Tuesday to Friday: 10:00 – 18:00;
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 – 13:00;