The birthplace home of Nikola Tesla was renovated, restored, and turned into an interactive museum about the prolific inventor. They basically made it into a geekfest wonderland.
Opened on 10 July 2006, on the anniversary of his 150th birthday, the Nikola Tesla Museum and Memorial Center (Muzej Like Gospić – Memorijalni Centar “Nikola Tesla” Smiljan) has lots to explore.
As you can see from the video, I hopped on the train from Croatia’s lovely capital city of Zagreb down to the mountain town of Gospić this February. It’s also easily accessed from the main highway from Zagreb to Split by taking the Gospić exit.
Watch video of my stop there on the Ultimate Nikola Tesla Tour:
Overview of the Nikola Tesla Museum and Memorial Center
His birthplace home has been carefully restored and made into a museum that shows off various models of his inventions, like Tesla Coils, an AC induction motor, a working Egg of Columbus — used by Tesla during the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago to demonstrate the alternating current magnetic field — as well as several exhibits, and a small research library. They’ve separately reconstructed a replica shed that existed during Telsa’s childhood from which he jumped off the top holding an umbrella, hoping to experience flight. He only experienced gravity.
A statue of Tesla by sculptor Mile Blažević stands in front of the house looking out over the fields and hills
the inventor romped around as a kid, and there are a few new structures built to hold multimedia presentations.
Just adjacent to the house sits Church of St. Apostles where Tesla’s father was once the presiding minister. There are walking paths, as well as the Peter and Paul Cemetery propped on a hill, sloping down toward the church.
Interestingly, there’s also a replica of Tesla’s 1899-1900 research station in Colorado Springs, in which he did all sorts of amazballs experiments (see it in the video, or a photo of it below).
There’s also a 1 million-watt working Tesla coil inside the newly-built visitor’s center. Once the neon lights covering the walls of the demonstration room (literally highlighting his accomplishments) are turned off, visitors can be dazzled by Tesla’s man-made lightening.
Other outdoorsy things include a working model of his turbine in a stream running through the property, and a HI-TEC from-the-future-looking children’s playground on the museum grounds.
Bonus Tesla love at the Smiljan post office
A visit to the post office is actually a delightful little surprise. After you’ve picked up some merch from the museum’s giftshop — including all the Tesla postcards you could ever want — stop off just down the road.
The smiling guy behind the counter will let you get some postcard stamps even though they closed five minutes ago, then his friend just standing around will make some gestures to follow him to a side room which houses its own little mini-museum with an Egg of Columbus (that the guy plugs in and stands there watching while you photograph it), as well as a bunch of little artifacts and a guestbook.
Best post office ever.
Where to stay
Since the birthplace museum is located in the tiny, tiny, tiny village of Smiljan, the closest place to stay overnight is Gospić, which has accommodations, a really good pizza place (among other things), and its own relaxed but very historic museum about the region. Gospić is also where Tesla attended high school and there’s a plaque on the building bearing his likeness. It was the second most damaged Croatian city during its war for independence. Three matching Tesla statues commissioned by the Yugoslavian government were placed at Niagara Falls (on the US side), at Belgrade University, and Tesla Square in Gospić, but it was destroyed during the war. I’ve heard from locals that it’s being repaired in Zagreb and will be restored to it’s proper place in the town square, and the Tesla Trifecta will be back…
Museum Hours & Costs
Summer hours (21 Mar – 01 Nov):
Tuesday – Sunday 09:00 to 20:00
Winter hours (01 Nov – 21 Mar):
Tuesday – Sunday 09:00 to 15:00
Closed on Mondays
- Adults – HRK 50.00
- Students and seniors – HRK 20.00
- Family ticket – HRK 80.00
- Children up to 7 years – free entry
- Organized groups of 15 or more – HRK 30.00
- Tel: +385 (0) 53 746 530
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org