Tags Posts tagged with "Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum"

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

Heather Lynch

As part of its Ecology and Climate Change lecture series, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will welcome Stony Brook University’s Heather Lynch for a presentation titled Mapping Penguins with Satellites, Drones and Other Technologies in the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium on April 14 at 7 p.m.

In Mapping Penguins, with Satellites, Drones, and Other Technologies, Professor Lynch will share insights from her innovative research into the population dynamics of penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula. To better understand rises and falls in this population due to climate change, tourism, and fishing, Lynch marries traditional field work with a range of technologically sophisticated methods including satellite remote sensing, drone imaging, and advanced computational models.

“Penguin populations have been changing rapidly over the last 40 years,” says Lynch. “But understanding why those changes have occurred and what we might expect for the future is a surprisingly difficult challenge. [In this lecture,] I’ll discuss the threats facing Antarctic penguins and how scientists are bringing together new technology, artificial intelligence, and advanced predictive modeling to help guide policymakers in their work to protect one of the world’s last remaining wildernesses.”

Dr. Heather J. Lynch is the Institute for Advanced Computational Sciences Endowed Chair for Ecology & Evolution at Stony Brook University. She earned a B.A. in Physics from Princeton University, an M.A. in Physics from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Organismal and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard. She is also a National Geographic Explorer and past winner of the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists.

Join Lynch as she shares her insight and research. $6 per person, members free. To register, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Steve Brill and his daughter Violet. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Vanderbilt wild food tour

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport presents a special program, Foraging with the Wildman on Sunday, March 13 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Environmental educator and author Steve “Wildman” Brill, who gives wild food and ecology tours, and his daughter, Violet Brill, will offer the program on the estate grounds.

“The Vanderbilt Museum grounds — with cultivated areas, fields, thickets, and woods — is a bonanza for wild foods in late winter,” Brill said, “and everything the group will be finding is renewable.”

Brill said wild greens will be thriving in sunny areas and along trail edges. These include chickweed (which tastes like corn on the cob), lemony sheep sorrel, garlicky garlic mustard, spicy hairy bittercress, pungent field garlic, and wild carrots. Other habitats will provide many more delicious species, he said.

“Participants should bring plastic bags for veggies and herbs, and a paper bag in case we find early-season mushrooms, which spoil in plastic,” he said. “Digging implements such as small hand shovels are recommended, as roots will be in season.” 

Everyone should also wear closed shoes, long pants, and long sleeves for protection from poison ivy and ticks, plus an extra layer of clothing in case it gets cold. Smoking and vaping are not allowed. Please note that this is the first day of Daylight Savings Time.

A 60-minute indoor presentation in the Vanderbilt Reichert Planetarium will precede a two-hour foraging tour, followed by a book signing. Brill’s books include Foraging in New York; Foraging with Kids; and The Wild Vegan Cookbook: A Guide to Preparing Wild (and Not-So-Wild) Foods.

Fee is $10 for adults and children 12 and older, free for children under 12. To register, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org. For more information, call 631-854-5579.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will kick off the first of a series of Thankful Thursdays on March 10 at 7 p.m. in the Reichert Planetarium. Funding is generously provided by BAE Systems.

The evenings will feature a family-friendly planetarium show. After the show, astronomy educators will invite visitors to look through telescopes at the night sky – weather permitting.

The featured show on March 10 is Stars: The Powerhouses of the Universe. This intriguing show takes the audience on a journey to the farthest reaches of the galaxy to experience both the awesome beauty and destructive power of stars. Narrated by actor Mark Hamill of Star Wars.

The event is free, but registration is required.

Children’s Workshops, New Planetarium Shows

During the February school break, Monday to Friday, February 21 to 25, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Reichert Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will be open every day from noon to 4 p.m. (and Sunday as always) for exploring galleries, guided Mansion tours, and shows. The Planetarium also will be offering shows on Friday and Saturday, February 25 and 26, from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

The Gift Shop and Café will be open. Visitors can purchase sandwiches, salads, and snacks prepared by the renowned Copenhagen Bakery and Café in Northport.

Visitors may purchase tickets for guided tours of the Vanderbilt Mansion and for two recently premiered Planetarium shows: Exoplanets: Discovering New Worlds and Explore. And parents can sign up their children for fun, creative workshops.

In Exoplanets, visitors will be transported to planets orbiting faraway stars. While science has not yet found evidence of alien life, this exciting program speculates on the existence of such life and explores how scientists are currently searching for exoplanets and their potential inhabitants. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

Explore is an odyssey to the planet Mars, seen through the lens of human history and scientific development. This visually stunning fulldome film begins with a look at how scholars and scientists throughout the ages used the sky as a clock and calendar to measure the passage of time. Their charts and star catalogs informed the modern science of astronomy. Dave Bush, director of the Reichert Planetarium, called Explore “one of the finest productions ever made available to our audiences. It’s truly an immersive masterpiece.” Recommended for ages 14 and up.

Children’s Winter Workshops
Portraits and Mixed-Media ‘Selfies’ – Monday, February 21: 10 am – 12 pm
Grades K-4 | $20 / $18 MembersWe will see Vanderbilt family portraits in the historic house, have a special viewing of a portrait of George Washington, and create a mixed-media “selfie” portrait.
Bulb Botany and Winter Blooms – Wednesday, February 23: 10 am – 12 pm
Grades K-4 | $20 / $18 MembersExplore the ways living things get energy, examine plant bulbs, make a bulb forcing container.
The Museum is following New York State and Suffolk County guidelines – wearing masks is suggested, but not required. For more information, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.


The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum has just premiered the fifth video in a series of Vanderbilt Moments in History, How William Vanderbilt Created America’s First International Auto Race,  which introduces viewers to the history of the race.

Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

William K. Vanderbilt II, an early auto-racing enthusiast, set a land-speed record in 1904 of 92.3 miles per hour in a Mercedes on a course in Daytona Beach, Florida. That same year, he launched the Vanderbilt Cup, America’s first international auto race.

The video series is being created by Killian Taylor, archives and records manager: “It might come as a surprise to hear that many of the Long Island roads we drive on today were once part of one of the biggest auto events in the country. The Vanderbilt Cup was the brainchild of Mr. Vanderbilt, who wanted to create a race that would encourage American car manufacturers to make race cars that could compete with their European counterparts.

“The races drew thousands of visitors onto the island each year and paved the way for modern auto racing as we know it today. The Vanderbilt Cup was a one-of-a-kind national event, and it happened right in our backyards.”

Watch these other Vanderbilt Moments in History videos:

Vanderbilt weathervane. Vanderbilt Museum Archives photo

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum has received a grant of $86,489 from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation that will finance the restoration of two weathervanes that once adorned the Vanderbilt Mansion and the Learning Center.

The mansion weathervane, once atop the Bell Tower, depicts a ship with wind-filled sails plowing through waves, followed by sea serpents, and includes dolphin forms sitting on top of a globe of stars. The sculptural work was created by Samuel Yellin, considered the foremost iron artisan of the twentieth century and known as the “Tiffany of ironwork.”

The large weathervane signifies William K. Vanderbilt II’s love of the seas, his years of circumnavigating the globe, exploring the oceans, and collecting specimens for his marine museum, The Hall of Fishes. The smaller weathervane is simpler — a rotating arrow with scrollwork and embellishments. Deterioration and public safety concerns led the museum to remove both weathervanes 30 years ago.

Restoration will be performed by Spirit Ironworks of Bayport, operated by siblings Rachel and Timothy Miller. For their restoration work at the Henry Street Settlement in New York City, they received the 2020 Stanford White Award for Craftmanship and Artisanship through the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art.

“We are thrilled that the Gardiner Foundation believes in the timeless significance of Samuel Yellin’s magnificent iron artistry — and in the Vanderbilt as stewards of an extensive repository of his unique art. We’re excited that the gifted, award-winning artisans at Spirit Ironworks will be restoring our Yellin collection,” said Vanderbilt Museum Executive Director Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan.

“Willliam Vanderbilt’s Eagle’s Nest is one of the few remaining North Shore estates open to the public. There were more than 1,200 built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Vanderbilt is one of the jewels of our Suffolk County parks system. These weathervanes, initially utilitarian objects, showcase the mastery of Yellin’s artistic interpretation and craftsmanship. Their restoration and re-installation will offer the visitor a new insight into how their Long Island Gold Coast neighbors curated and celebrated even the smallest details of their homes,” said Kathryn M. Curran, executive director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. 

“This commitment to preserve the two weathervanes produced by Samuel Yellin for William K. Vanderbilt II represents an incredible gift from the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation to Long Island’s rich heritage in the decorative arts. As the foremost artisan in wrought iron, Samuel Yellin fabricated architectural and ornamental fixtures for some of the more culturally significant constructions of the early twentieth century,” said Paul Rubery, director of curatorial affairs.

“In the past year, the weathervane — a unique alchemy of sculpture, scientific instrument, and public artwork — has specifically enjoyed renewed appreciation among art lovers and historians who seek to understand the full breadth of American craft. We look forward to the day when these historically significant works can greet our visitors from their proper positions on the Learning Center and Bell Tower rooftops,” he added. 

“Master blacksmith Samuel Yellin has an incredible body of work at the Vanderbilt Museum. By restoring two of his weathervanes, we gain respect for the elevated level of skill and design he used to create these works of art. Starting with a three-masted ship followed by sea serpents atop a star-filled globe, Yellin transformed a simple weathervane into a sculpture that honored his patron’s love of the sea, adventure, and exploration,” said Rachel Miller of Spirit Ironworks. 

“As fellow artist-blacksmiths here at Spirit Ironworks, we are honored to preserve a small part of his legacy by staying faithful to many of his means and methods used in these lovingly crafted weathervanes.”

Northport Scout Joseph Luft on the trail and steps he rebuilt on the Vanderbilt Estate. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum
Project enhanced beauty of estate and safety for visitor-hikers

Joseph Luft rebuilt the steps on a steep trail at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum as part of his project to become an Eagle Scout.

Luft, a junior at Northport High School and member of Troop 41, reconstructed the hill and the steps leading from the Wishing Well Garden at the Vanderbilt Mansion down to the Boathouse on the waterfront. Jim Munson, the Vanderbilt’s operations supervisor, said the old steps had begun to fail and became a safety concern. On a Troop 41 trip to the Museum in 2020, Luft noticed the deterioration and decided he wanted to make the trail his Eagle project, Munson said.

Above right: Kyle Roelofs, Michael Monda, Connor Jorgensen, James Posillico, Joe Luft, Ryan Edebohls, Will Ponder, David Luft. Photo by Virginia Luft.

Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, executive director of the Museum, said, “We’re grateful to Joe for his important contribution to the Vanderbilt. The rebuilt hill, steps, and trail are crucial not only to the beauty and accessibility of the estate grounds, but also to the enjoyment and safety of visitors who hike the trail.”

Luft, who chose the project because he loves hiking, started planning it a year ago. He began working on the trail in August and with help from his family, troop, and friends completed work on October 2. He thanked “14 incredible scouts” for helping him raise $1,324 by holding a car wash and for working with him to complete the trail.

“The most surprising aspect of the project,” Luft said, “was how willing people were to lend a hand whenever I needed help or volunteers. Whether it was purchasing supplies or scrubbing down cars, someone was always there with me to help make sure it was done right. The people at the Vanderbilt were incredibly flexible with timing and with occasionally lending us one of their golf carts to haul tools.”

Luft, who is about to complete the Eagle Scout requirements, said it felt “amazing” to finish the project. “It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, a lot of stress and work. But the project was finally done and all I could do was sit back and look at everything accomplished with a smile.”

He said he learned a lot about how to organize fundraisers and how to write emails in a professional manner. “I also learned something about time management and how strong a community Northport is when it comes to people supporting each other.”

From left: Dave Bush; trustees Elizabeth Cambria and James Kelly; Christine Berardi of National Grid Foundation; trustees Laura Gerde, Gretchen Oldrin Mones, and Jack DeMasi; and Elizabeth-Wayland Morgan. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum
Century-old estate trail reclaimed, enhanced

William K. Vanderbilt II built a hiking trail in the 1920s on his Eagle’s Nest waterfront estate in Centerport that became overgrown and disappeared into the forest. The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, located at Eagle’s Nest, has reclaimed the trail, and held a grand opening in November. Major project donors and museum trustees attended the event in the Rose Garden, which is also the trailhead.

Now called the Solar System Hiking Trail, the course includes a scale model of the Solar System, which complements STEM and astronomy-education programs offered by the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium.

“This is a long-awaited day. We are grateful to Christine Berardi and the National Grid Foundation for 10 years of outstanding, unwavering support and to Vanderbilt trustee Laura Gerde and her husband, Eric Gerde. Their ongoing contributions to our STEM programming include the exhibits in the Planetarium lobby. Their steadfast support makes it possible for the Museum to expand its work as a leader in astronomy and science education,” said Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum.

Other project donors are Marilyn and Russell Albanese, BAE Systems, Farrell Fritz Attorneys, Northwell Health, People’s United Bank, and PFM Asset Management.

Wayland-Morgan said Dave Bush, the director of the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium, “single-handedly created the Solar System trail — I don’t think there’s a program like this anywhere else.” She also thanked Jim Munson, the museum’s operations supervisor. “Jim noticed portions of the original trail and saw its potential. He said let’s do this.” 

Bush said that scale models of the solar system have been created before at museums, science centers, and universities. “But the Vanderbilt’s trail is likely the only one that traverses a one-mile hiking trail with hundreds of feet in elevation changes,” he said. “It is an opportunity for visitors to learn about the bodies in our solar system and its vast scale, and to see and experience parts of the museum property that have never been seen before by the public.”

Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Reichert Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will be open Thanksgiving weekend, Friday through Sunday, November 26 to 28.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the Vanderbilt Mansion, decorated for the holidays by Ethan Allen and local garden clubs. Tour times on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are 12:30, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 3:30 pm.

The Planetarium will also be open on Friday (on a Saturday daytime schedule), and throughout the holiday weekend. The Planetarium playbill offers shows for all ages and has just premiered its newest show, Explore, for or ages 14 and up. Take an odyssey to the planet Mars, seen through the lens of human history and scientific development. This visually stunning fulldome film begins with a look at how scholars and scientists throughout the ages have used the sky as a clock and calendar to measure the passage of time. Their charts and star catalogs informed the modern science of astronomy.

Before or after a tour or a show, visitors can stop by the Under the Stars café in the Planetarium lobby for sandwiches and treats from the renowned Copenhagen Bakery in Northport.

For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

By Tara Mae

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s new exhibit, Alva Belmont: Socialite to Suffragist, traces Alva Vanderbilt Belmont’s evolution from Alabama belle to New York suffragist. 

Originally planned for 2020 as a centennial celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, it is on display in the Vanderbilt Mansion’s Lancaster Room on the first floor and offers an overview of Alva’s life while highlighting her fervent support for the women’s suffrage movement. 

“Alva Vanderbilt Belmont was the mother of William K. Vanderbilt II, who built the estate, mansion, and museum,” said Executive Director Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan. Alva’s first husband, William II’s father, was the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, a business tycoon who amassed his wealth through railroads and shipping. 

From a prominent Southern family, Alva brought her own money and social standing into the marriage and later used her position to fight for women’s rights. 

“As a Southern socialite, she became an unexpected champion of women’s rights. Alva gave important support and funding to the National American Woman Suffrage Association and several women’s suffrage groups in the U.S. and the United Kingdom,” Wayland-Morgan added. “Alva was in a position of considerable power, influence, and social connections. For such a woman in any era to take up the fight for the rights of all women was startling. I wanted to know more about her extraordinary life.”

The exhibit is set up in five sections: Early Life, First Foray, Marble House, The National Woman’s Party, and Later Life. 

“Each section represents a pivotal moment in Alva’s life that shows how she became involved in the suffragist movement over time,” explained Archives and Records Manager Killian Taylor during a recent tour.

Primary sources and artifacts, including newspaper articles and “Votes for Women” plates commissioned by Alva, are on display and the Estate of Nan Guzzetta loaned 13 replicas of historic suffragist outfits to set the stage. The focal point of the exhibit is the photographs that adorn the walls. 

Images are included from the museum’s collection, the Library of Congress, and the National Woman’s Party, as well as loaned from the Southampton History Museum. Port Jefferson Village historian Chris Ryon also provided prints. A video installation, sponsored by Bank of America, chronicles her life.

“It is primarily a photo-based exhibit; Alva’s life through photos. Alva was savvy about using the media to her advantage” said Taylor.

Featuring pictures of Alva’s private and public lives, photos depict Alva with her children, at her homes, such as Marble House in Rhode Island (site of her “Conference of Great Women”), and with her fellow suffragists, among them Alice Paul and Lucy Burns.  

Taylor’s favorite images pertain to Alva’s work with the suffrage movement. 

“The first is a photo of Alva, Alice Paul, and a number of members of the National Woman’s Party; everyone is centered around Alva, who is sitting at a desk that belonged to Susan B. Anthony. The second is a photo of Alva’s funeral in 1933; the mausoleum is a replica of one designed by da Vinci. Alva’s pallbearers were all women and her casket flanked by members of National Woman’s Party,” he said.  

Recognizing the influence of her social capital, Alva leveraged it for promoting women’s suffrage. Any event, even her own funeral, could be used for publicity. 

“One of Alva’s strong points was that she was very, very good at using the press, so when she became heavily involved in the movement she made sure that she got in the papers,” Taylor said.  

Alva joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association circa 1909, following the death of her second husband, Oliver Belmont, and quickly put to good use the connections she had initially fostered while married to her first husband, William Kissam Vanderbilt.  

Alva networked, hosted events, organized, founded the Political Equality Union of New York to elect candidates who supported women’s suffrage, created a new national press bureau, worked the press, and with Paul even arranged the first picket protest to be held outside the White House. 

As a leader of women’s suffrage, Alva was advocating for women to have power beyond what was allocated to them by the men in their lives. Before women had the right to vote, their primary access to power was through their husbands (or fathers.) 

And so, prior to her participation in the women’s suffrage movement, Alva sought authority through the means most available to her: making a socially and economically suitable marriage for herself. Alva understood the importance of a “good match,” as Taylor noted, and with William K. Vanderbilt, she made one.

“Their marriage was pragmatic; it was not a love match,” he added. “For an American woman who wanted independence during the 19th century, the option was to marry rich.” 

William was certainly rich; he was part of the wealthiest family in the country. He and Alva had three children: Consuelo, William, and Harold. 

Alva divorced William Sr. for having an affair, at the time an uncommon response to such behavior. 

“She is the one who suffered the backlash,” Taylor said. Still, she emerged with several of their estates and a financial settlement reportedly in the range of $10 million. 

Her second marriage, to Oliver Belmont, was by all accounts a happier union. In 1908, her husband died of appendicitis and Alva fell into a depression. To cope, she immersed herself in charitable works and causes, which led her to the women’s suffrage movement. 

“At Consuelo’s urging, she attended a suffrage event in the United Kingdom and that lit the spark,” Taylor said. 

Consuelo was involved in the women’s suffrage movement in England, and the two pooled their resources and clout for women’s suffrage in the United States. They had reconciled after a rift caused years earlier by Alva’s machinations in arranging Consuelo’s marriage.

She selected Charles Spencer-Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, as Consuelo’s husband. Alva apparently saw the union as an opportunity for further upward mobility and international social standing. Consuelo refused to wed him, wanting instead to elope with her secret fiancé, Winthrop Rutherford. 

In retaliation, Alva had her locked in her room and threatened to shoot Rutherford. “Alva was very strong-willed,” Taylor said. Consuelo continued to resist until Alva emotionally blackmailed her into compliance, feigning she was dying of a heart ailment to get her then seventeen year old daughter to acquiesce. On the day of the wedding, while Consuelo reputedly wept behind her veil, Alva appeared to have made an immediate and full recovery. 

A little over a decade into the marriage, Consuelo and Charles separated. They later divorced and sought an annulment, with Alva’s full support. During the process, Alva told an investigator “I forced my daughter to marry the duke.”

The common goal of women’s suffrage helped heal the once frayed relationship between the two women, and as Consuelo worked abroad, Alva, with the National Woman’s Party, sought a constitutional amendment to guarantee women the right to vote in the United States. 

Victory came in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Alva then moved to France to be near Consuelo. She died there in 1933 and is interred in the Belmont Mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. 

“The museum is proud of Alva’s national leadership role as a champion of women’s rights, as was her family. Her success in the suffrage movement and in securing the right of women to vote is a significant, pivotal chapter in American history,” Wayland-Morgan said. 

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport presents Alva Belmont: Socialite to Suffragist through mid-January 2022. Tickets to the museum are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $9 for students with ID, and $7 for children age 12 and younger) Children under the age of two are free. Current hours for the museum, mansion and planetarium are Friday to Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.