Tesla Museum graphic photoshoppedA non-profit organization, working 15 years to save a historic property owned by Nikola Tesla, learned a lot about the power of social networks this week.

In just five days, a grassroots campaign set up by an artist was able to raise $829,000 from citizen donors contributing money to buy back Tesla’s laboratory and turn it into a museum that honors the pioneering physicist and engineer.

Despite Tesla’s countless discoveries and contributions to science, there is no American museum dedicated to his achievements as “the father of the electric age”. His final laboratory is located in the sleepy town of Shoreham, New York. It’s where Tesla attempted to build a tower before his death that would provide free wireless energy to the entire earth, according to the museum’s fundraising webpage.

The land, laboratory, and foundation beneath the tower are still there and very recently went up for sale. The non-profit is trying to buy the property and turn it into the first Tesla Museum in the U.S.. The property is listed at $1.6 million, but the non-profit will receive a dollar-for-dollar matching grant from New York State for up to half that amount, $850k.

Enter Matthew Inman, creator of “The Oatmeal” comics series. He launched the fundraising campaign that rallied social media networks to open their wallets. Within 24 hours donations rocketed past his initial $450,000 goal. By the end of today the viral momentum will likely lift the fundraising tally past the $850,000 required to save the historic property.

Tesla NikolaMore than 14,000 perks, like tee shirts and totes, have been claimed by people wanting to be a part of this new page in Tesla’s story.

Prizes, such as shirts, Tesla photos and bumper stickers were gobbled up in the first days for donations of less than $50. At the higher end of the scale, fifty people donated $500 to garner a bundle of gifts and one even donated $33,000 (three was Tesla’s favorite number) to be included on the Oatmeal.com website.

Check out the campaign and donate at www.indiegogo.com/teslamuseum

(Warning: A curse word is used as part of the campaign’s title; I edited it out of the graphics used above.)

See why Inman reveres Tesla, rather than Thomas Edison.

UPDATE, Aug. 21:  “Wow, someone just donated $33,000 and put us over our goal! $873,169 REACHED!” tweeted The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman.

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