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Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

The Vanderbilt Mansion library is decked out for the holidays.

Each December, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport gives special evening tours of the decorated Mansion. This year, the Vanderbilt proudly introduces Sounds of the Seasons, a captivating new holiday program, planned for Saturday, December 9 and 16, from 5 to 9 p.m.

Transport yourself to the heyday of Eagle’s Nest, a time when radio was the heartbeat of everyday life.

Explore the festively adorned mansion and be serenaded by timeless Bing Crosby melodies, relive President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Christmas Eve commemorations, and be captivated by special holiday episodes of Suspense Radio.

This holiday celebration masterfully captures the essence of the Golden Age of Radio, blending festive cheer with nostalgic charm.

The Vanderbilt Mansion’s halls were decked by the Museum’s curators in collaboration with the Dix Hills, Centerport, Three Village, Asharoken, and Nathan Hale garden clubs.

Tickets, which are $15 per person, can be purchased on the Vanderbilt website, www.vanderbiltmuseum.org, for specific 30-minute tour times.


Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Join the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport for their annual tree lighting on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 6:30 p.m. This year the tree will be placed near the main entrance on the lawn in front of the ancient columns that overlook Northport Bay. Complimentary sweet treats, hot cocoa and mulled cider will be served and there will be a special visit from Santa and other surprises!

This year’s tree was donated by Lois Luhrs of St. James. “It was about three feet high when we planted it in 1993,” she said, “and it grew a couple feet each year.” When Vanderbilt staff members cut it down, the tree was 60 feet high. It was trimmed to 30 feet for installation on the estate grounds.

Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, Executive Director of the Vanderbilt, said, “We’re very grateful to Lois Luhrs for donating this magnificent tree for the museum’s holiday festivities. It will add a bit of magic to the estate.”

Special thanks to Teachers Federal Credit Union for their contribution toward the event.

The Vanderbilt is collaborating with Long Island Cares on its annual Holiday Food Drive. The Museum will have a Long Island Cares collection bin stationed near the tree for anyone who wants to donate. After this event, the bin will be in the lobby of the Reichert Planetarium through Sunday, December 3

In addition, the Vanderbilt is collaborating with BAE Systems, which funds some Vanderbilt Museum programs, on its annual Holiday Toy Drive for the Family Service League. Visitors may donate new, unwrapped toys in a collection bin in the Reichert Planetarium lobby through December 10.

Admission to the tree lighting is free. Capacity is limited to 400. Registration is required by visiting www.vanderbiltmuseum.org or click here.

Vanderbilt Museum Stoll Wing Diorama. Vanderbilt Museum photo

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road Centerport has announced the upcoming revitalization of its Stoll Wing, a natural-history exhibit space dedicated to the spirit of exploration and learning.

The Stoll Wing project is made possible by generous support from the Roy M. Speer Foundation, which donated funds to honor the legacy of Charles H. Stoll.

The Museum has closed the Stoll Wing and Habitat Hall through mid-October. The renewal of the natural history exhibits represents the deepening of the Museum’s commitment to excellence in public education and stewardship.

This project will include updated signage, improved lighting, and elevated finishings. As part of the architect Ecodepot’s design, the renovation will also create additional vitrines to display ethnographic materials collected on the American Museum of Natural History’s (AMNH) famous 1928 Stoll-McCracken Expedition to the Siberian Arctic.

The eight Stoll Wing dioramas display fifteen animals brought home by Charles H. Stoll (1887-1988) and his wife, Merle, between 1922 and 1969. Charles H. Stoll was a noted explorer, big-game hunter, and jurist who joined the Vanderbilt Museum Board of Trustees in 1969. He funded the Stoll-McCracken Expedition under the auspices of the AMNH, and the donation of his personal collection to the VanderbiltMuseum reflected his belief in the organization’s mission of informal education and enjoyment for the people of Long Island.

“We thank you for your understanding while this project is underway. We look forward to sharing the revitalized Stoll Wing with you soon,” said Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, Executive Director at the Vanderbilt Museum in a press release.

The renovation of the Stoll Wing is made possible by the generosity of the Roy M. Speer Foundation. Additional support for the conservation projects at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum comes from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, the Gerry Charitable Trust, the Pritchard Charitable Trust, and committed members of the Long Island community.

For more information on how to support the Suffolk County VanderbiltMuseum and its programs, please visit: www.vanderbiltmuseum.org/joinsupport/

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport presents Storytime Under the Stars in the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium on Sunday, Aug. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. Sponsored by Bank of America, Storytime evenings feature a live narrator at the front of the theater who reads from selected picture books, with pages projected onto the Planetarium dome so families can enjoy the illustrations and follow along. Between stories, an astronomy educator explores seasonal constellations visible from here on Long Island.

Author Ellen Mason will read her book, Patches and Stripes, one of four scheduled that evening. In it, she and co-author—and Vanderbilt Museum colleague—Ed Clampitt, tell the true story of a family that lost an heirloom during a Museum visit. That tale, in which the heirloom eventually “turned up,” is one the authors call “Vanderbilt magic.” 

Mason, a Museum tour guide, and Clampitt, a member of the security staff, will do a book signing in the Planetarium lobby after the show.

All children are invited to wear their comfiest pajamas and bring their favorite stuffed animal. The admission fee is $8 per person and $6 for members. To reserve your spot, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org or pay at the door. For more information, call 631-864-5532.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport celebrated the revitalization, replanting, and resurrection of the Museum’s Rose Garden at a ribbon-cutting event on June 13.

The garden — with its centerpiece fountain and brick pathways — is once again in glorious full bloom and offers a striking view of Northport Bay. The restoration was made possible by a generous anonymous donation of $5,000.

Executive Director Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan presided over the event. Other speakers included James Kelly, President of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, and officers of the 65-member Centerport Garden Club, including Co-Presidents Wendy J. Wolfson and Cathy Cresko, and Rose Garden Committee Co-Chairs Nancy Schwartz and Linda Pitra.

The rose bushes, which were wiped out in 2020 by the highly contagious and incurable  Rose Rosette virus, had to be removed, along with the infected soil. The ground had to lie fallow for two years because the disease survives on tiny pieces of roots and other rose debris in the soil. Only then could the club — working with Operations Supervisor Jim Munson and his crew — replace the top 6-8 inches of soil and plant 57 new rose bushes representing 13 varieties.

“The varieties were selected for their disease resistance and how they will thrive on Long Island in an organic garden,” said Nancy Schwartz.

The club also planted six climbing hydrangeas, 17 hydrangea bushes including a variety that is sun-tolerant, eight boxwoods, and added several pollinator-friendly plantings. The project took three and a half years to complete. 

Two years later, the club was able to reintroduce new roses. “By then we had planted the boxwoods for architectural interest and the hydrangeas to define the entrances, and installed a lovely arbor,” Schwartz said. “We were still planting rose bushes this spring just before the ribbon-cutting event.”

Beginning June 24, summer hours for the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will be Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Noted Poet-Farmer reflects on ‘Soil and Spirit’
On Thursday, June 1, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centeport  will host Scott Chaskey, poet-farmer and pioneer of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement, for a presentation of his latest memoir, Soil and Spirit: Cultivation and Kinship in the Web of Life (Milkweed Editions, 2023).
Scott Chaskey. Photo by Lindsay Morris

As a farmer with decades spent working in the fields, Chaskey’s worldview has been shaped by daily attention to the earth. His career as a writer has been influenced by these experiences, showing a profound commitment to the promotion of food sovereignty and organic agriculture. In both writing and farming, his efforts have been animated by a central conviction—namely, that humble attention to microbial life provides us with invaluable lessons for building healthy human communities.

Soil and Spirit is a collection of personal essays, mapping the evolution of Chaskey’s thoughts on ecology, agriculture, and society through decisive moments in his biography. In its pages, he takes readers to his original homestead in Maine; the rugged Irish countryside, complete with blackberries, heather, and Nobel-Prize-winning poets; the ancient granite cliffs of the Cornwall coastline; Santa Clara, New Mexico, where he harvested amaranth seeds alongside a group of indigenous women; and finally, to Amagansett, in Suffolk County, where he recalls planting Redwood saplings and writing poetry beneath a centuries-old beech tree.

The lecture will take place at 7:00 pm in the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium. Tickets are available here. Support for the lecture series is generously provided by a grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.

About the lecturer:

Scott Chaskey is the author of Soil and Spirit. He is also the author of a memoir, This Common Ground: Seasons on an Organic Farm, and a book of nonfiction, Seedtime: On the History, Husbandry, Politics, and Promise of Seeds. His poetry, first printed in literary journals in the early seventies, has been widely published over four decades.

A pioneer of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement, for thirty years he cultivated more than sixty crops for the Peconic Land Trust at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, New York, one of the original CSAs in the country. He is the past president of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York and was honored as Farmer of the Year in 2013.

Chaskey was a founding board member for both the Center for Whole Communities, in Vermont, and Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, in Shelter Island, New York. He taught as a poet-in-the-schools for over two decades and as an instructor for Antioch International and Friends World College in Southampton. He lives and works on the east end of Long Island, New York.


On Earth Day, April 22, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport debuted Wendy Klemperer: Wrought Taxonomies, the first exhibition of outdoor sculpture at the historic summer estate of William Kissam Vanderbilt II. The show runs through April 22, 2024.

Klemperer’s sculptures — a haunting assemblage of animal forms that span imaginary, endangered, familiar, and exotic species — celebrate natural history and the nonhuman world through evocative interactions with the surrounding environment. A total of 32 outdoor sculptures are displayed throughout the property along with several ink drawings in the Lancaster Gallery inside the mansion.

Using materials salvaged from scrapyards, the artist composes ecological narratives that respond to the history and collections of Suffolk County’s first public park and museum. Her brilliant use of gestural lines captures the spectator’s attention and invites museumgoers to reflect on the relationship between an interest in animal life and the incessant push of human industry.

Made possible due to the generous support of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, Wrought Taxonomies is the inaugural exhibition in the Vanderbilt Museum’s outdoor sculpture program and the institution’s second exhibition of contemporary art focused on the relationship between culture and animals.

The Vanderbilt Museum occupies the former Gold Coast estate of William Kissam Vanderbilt II, the great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt and a pioneer of American motorsport. Located in Centerport on the north shore of Long Island, it is renowned for its extensive marine and natural history collections, Spanish revival architecture, and picturesque parklands.

“The museum is delighted that its first outdoor exhibition features the works of Wendy Klemperer, an artist renowned for her profound interest in conservation and singular interpretation of the natural world,” said Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, Executive Director of the Vanderbilt.

“This exhibition is an ideal thematic fit – the museum has shared a similar passion for conservation and the appreciation of nature since its creation. The Vanderbilt estate, with its stunning waterfront landscape, provides a perfect setting for Klemperer’s dynamic, large-scale works. Her striking pieces offer a thought-provoking and enlightening experience for all.,” she said.

All sculptures are viewable with general admission to the Museum grounds. Educational programs and workshops associated with themes and content of Wendy Klemperer: Wrought Taxonomies will be offered throughout the exhibition. .

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. Museum and planetarium hours are currently Friday from noon to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The planetarium also offers shows on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 and 9 p.m. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Reichert Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will premiere a new show, We Are Guardians: How Satellites Help Us To Save the Planet, on Saturday, April 22, at 3 p.m. Other dates include April 29 and May 6. 

We are all connected. Come and find out how.

Join us on a journey into, under, and around the many ecosystems across our planet. Discover how each component fits together, and how the health of each part is vital to the health of Planet Earth. Find out how, with the help of satellites and scientific study, we can understand the links between human activities and climate change, and what we can do to work together to improve the health of our shared home.

This visually stunning show is an immersive science film that features beautiful animation and creative storytelling that viewers of all ages can enjoy together.

Best suited for ages 8 and up.

Tickets are $15 adults, $13 seniors and students, $13 children ages 12 and under.

To order, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.


On Thursday, March 16, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will host Michael Mehta Webster, Professor of Practice in Environmental Studies at New York University (NYU), for an evening lecture on global warming and nature’s inherent resilience. The event will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Museum’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium.

Webster’s lecture will draw heavily from his 2022 book The Rescue Effect: The Key to Saving Life on Earth (Timber Press). In The Rescue Effect, Webster offers cause for optimism in the often-disheartening discourse around anthropogenic climate change. Through a series of compelling animal stories—from tigers in the jungles of India to cichlid fish in the great lakes of Africa and coral reefs in the Caribbean—Webster will highlight how certain species have adapted to a rapidly changing world.

Webster also will explore how other species, like the mountain pygmy possum, are at risk of extinction without substantive but practicable efforts on the part of conservationists, activists, and concerned citizens of our planet.

Webster argues that we have good reason to expect a bright future because almost everywhere we look, we can see evidence of nature rescuing many species from extinction. The Rescue Effect provides a much-needed roadmap to discovering what we can do to make a healthier Earth for future generations of humans and wildlife.

Tickets are $10 per person, free for members at www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.


Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport presents its third annual holiday event, Bright Lights: Celebrate the Season, Saturdays and Sundays, December 3-18, and on Thursday, December 22.

Thousands of warm-white lights will create holiday magic inside and outside the Mansion and illuminate trees, wreaths, garlands, guest rooms, walkways, and the Vanderbilt Library.

The event will include Candlelight Tours of the decorated Vanderbilt Mansion, visits with Santa and friends in his workshop, a children’s scavenger hunt, and a 15-minute Holiday Laser show in the Reichert Planetarium. In addition, the Stoll Wing and Habitat wild-animal dioramas and the Hall of Fishes marine museum will be open for visitors. Also open: the Vanderbilt Café and Gift Shop, located in the Planetarium lobby.

Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, Executive Director of the Vanderbilt Museum, said, “We are thrilled to invite everyone to kick off the holiday season and celebrate with us. The decorated and lighted Mansion and Estate become a winter wonderland. Bright Lights offers evenings of family fun for all.”

Tickets are: Adults $25 | Members $20; children 12 and under $15 | Members $10; children 2 and under FREE. To order, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.