New Nikola Tesla exhibition centre to open in Karlovac

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Time Out contributors

A new permanent exhibition centre dedicated to the life and work of world famous inventor Nikola Tesla is set to be opened in Karlovac, some 55 kilometres south west of Croatia's capital Zagreb. The city of Karlovac is where Tesla studied and from where he received his last official diploma.

Nikola Tesla

An inventor and hugely innovative engineer, Tesla is best known for pioneering the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system, which enabled the safe placement of electricity within every home, street and business as we know it today. He was born in 1856 in a village called Smiljan, in present day Croatia, to Serbian Orthodox parents.

In 1862, the Tesla family moved to Gospić, also in Lika, Croatia, where Tesla's father worked as parish priest. Nikola Tesla himself was supposed to follow his father and his mother's father into the Orthodox priesthood. However, luckily for all of us, that was not meant to be. In 1870, Tesla moved to Karlovac to attend the Higher Real Gymnasium. The new exhibition centre is located next door to that place of his former studies.

Nikola Tesla Experience Centre in Karlovac

The new exhibition centre will be a three floored space dedicated to Tesla's life and work. It will house items which he used while studying in Karlovac, his original school certificate and an extensive art installation which will display some of Tesla's many ideas and defining work.

The centre will be used as a place of education for school children, holding a classroom, exhibition space and a theatre for presentations. It is also intended to be a tourist attraction. 

Nikola Tesla pictured alongside some of his work

After continuing his studies in Austria, and spending some time teaching and working in Hungary, Tesla got a job working for Thomas Edison's company in Paris, before his innovative work was noticed and he was invited to go and work for the company in America. Edison, also a pioneering inventor, is frequently cited as one of the most innovative figures in the development of electricity supply. However, Edison was adamant that direct current (DC) would be the best way to distribute electricity. Despite Edison's wealth and power, the DC system he proposed proved to be impractical and unsafe. Instead, the AC distribution design, perfected by Tesla, became the standard that we appreciate today.

David Bowie as Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan's 2006 film The Prestige

Tesla stayed in America for the rest of his life and continued to invent, working within the fields of early x-rays, wireless power supply, electromagnetic radiation and radio waves, until his death in 1943. In the years since then, interest in Tesla, a man of considerable mystique, has only grown, not least as many of his pioneering and imaginative ideas remain unrealised. Nikola Tesla has been portrayed in film by Nicholas Hoult and David Bowie (the latter in The Prestige), has the national airport in Belgrade, Serbia named after him and also Serbia's largest power plant. In Croatia, over 130 streets are named after him. 

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