Centerport, NY (Sept. 14, 2020) Plan a visit to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium where you can walk the beautiful grounds and admire the Spanish Revival architecture of this turn-of-the-century, Gilded Age Long Island mansion!
You can visit several of the museum galleries, since museums have been given the okay to open. And there are a lot of special programs and events coming up, along with online educational events and lectures. Unfortunately the mansion and the planetarium are not open to the public right now during COVID.
“We‘re doing all we can to let people know we’re still here,” said Patrick Keeffe, director of communications.
While here, you can walk 43 manicured acres overlooking Northport Bay. The gorgeous mansion, built as William K. Vanderbilt’s summer home, was created by renowned New York City architecture firm, Warren & Wetmore (which designed and built Grand Central Terminal in New York City). One of the few remaining Gold Coast mansions, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You’ll be pleased to find that the grounds have been beautifully enhanced through a partnership with local landscape designers who helped create this year’s Third Annual Gardeners Showcase. Designers take over different gardens on the grounds to showcase their skills, and the results are amazing.
Natural History Museum Exhibits
The price of admission ($8-adults, $7 students/seniors,$5-under 12) also includes access to some indoor exhibit areas, including the Hall of Fishes marine mammal museum, the Stoll Wing, the Habitat exhibit and the Memorial Wing. Wear a mask and follow all safety protocols for distancing. (Walk down to the Planetarium building to purchase tickets).
Explore the fascinating natural history and specimens exhibits in the Hall of Fishes marine mammal museum, where there is a vast array of different types of sea creatures (including a giant sting ray). There are also several displays and dioramas of seabirds.
Mr. Vanderbilt’s expeditions around the globe make it possible for visitors to journey around the planet without leaving Long Island. His specimen-hunting trips to the Galápagos Islands, throughout the Pacific, Asia, the Mediterranean, Africa, the Atlantic and Caribbean, yielded thousands of examples of marine life, some of them new discoveries at the time Vanderbilt found them, according to the museum.
“There are specimens here not seen anywhere else,” Keeffe said.
The ticket price also enables you to explore the Stoll Wing and the Habitat Exhibit. Here you’ll see polar bears, lions and more, each housed in museum quality, hand-painted diorama displays. William Belanske, an artist from the American Museum of Natural History, served as Vanderbilt’s curator. He collaborated with the noted painter Henry Hobart Nicholas (also of NYC’s Natural History Museum) to create the Habitat’s that depict the settings from several continents. Visitors are often surprised to see displays of this quality.
The diorama area is in a darkened room, with the light coming from the displays creating a dramatic effect.
And, you can’t miss the centerpiece of the room: a GIANT, 32-foot whale shark (the world’s largest fish) actually caught off Fire Island in 1935. The whale shark (which is not actually a whale) is suspended from the ceiling!
The Memorial Wing galleries exhibits objects gathered from cultures all around the globe. These works – which reveal the artisanal talents of Asian, African and Pacific cultures – include clothing, utensils, weapons and ceremonial artifacts, according to the museum.
There are several upcoming events planned, including an outdoor concert featuring ‘Floyd and Us’ Saturday, September 19, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm. And you can attend a sunset yoga series Friday September 25th. Check events for more details.
Also coming up Oct. 3rd, from 9:00-12:00 is a Morning for Families where people with special needs and their families are invited to come for a free, special morning to explore the grounds and participate in other sensory displays.
Check for other upcoming programs, such as Estate and Gardens Walking Tours, and movie nights. You can also host your own ‘movie night’ on the beautiful grounds of the mansion and museum for your family and friends. The crew there built a large portable movie screen that is viewable from the upper parking lot. Visitors can sit in their cars or bring their own chairs. Contact (631) 854-5521 or (631) 854-5568 for more details.
And you can still connect with the mansion and planetarium through a series of online educational programs being offered for free, on fascinating topics such as ‘How to use a Telescope,’ ‘Exploring the Night Sky’ and ‘Alien Life.’
The museum also has upcoming virtual programming coming for the school year.
“We had to get creative with some of the things we’re doing,” Keeffe said.
While guidance on events, weddings, and shows in the planetarium sky theater and mansion tours is ongoing and evolving, be sure to check the Vanderbilt Mansion, Museum and Planetarium website for additional information and upcoming events.