Last updated: 12/12/2011
180 Little Neck RoadCenterport, NY 11721
Sunday, Tuesday, Saturday
12 PM - 4 PM
(Last mansion tour begins at 4:00.)
Tuesday - Saturday
10 AM - 5 PM
Check website for seasonal changes of hours.
General museum admission is $7 for adults, $6 for students with ID and seniors (62 and older), $3 for children 12 and under. General admission includes estate-grounds access to marine museum, Memorial Wing natural-history and ethnographic-artifact galleries, Nursery Wing, Egyptian mummy and Stoll Wing habitat dioramas. For a mansion tour, add $5 per ticket. (A video tour of the mansion is available on request.)
The Vanderbilt built in three stages from 1910 until 1936 is a unique combination of historic estate and mansion, marine and natural-history museum, planetarium and park. William K. Vanderbilt II called his estate Eagles Nest. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is home to the Vanderbilt Museum.
The museum offers education programs based on its extensive collections that are aligned with New York State K-12 curriculum standards. Annually, the Vanderbilt welcomes 100,000 visitors, including 50,000 schoolchildren.
The Vanderbilt Planetarium with its domed, 60-foot Sky Theater opened in 1971. Currently undergoing renovations and a complete technological update, it is scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2012. With these state-of-the-art enhancements, the planetarium which is the largest facility of its kind on Long Island will be one of the finest in the United States.
The Vanderbilt is a unique combination of historic mansion and estate, marine and natural history museum, planetarium and park is dedicated to the education and enjoyment of the people of Long Island and beyond. This mission is achieved through the thoughtful preservation, interpretation and enhancement of the Eagle's Nest estate as an informal educational facility. Exhibition and program themes focus upon Long Island's Gold Coast Era and build upon William K. Vanderbilt II's desire that his marine, natural-history and ethnographic-artifact collections promote appreciation and understanding of the marvelous diversity of life, other cultures and scientific knowledge.
In the summer of 1910, the explorer, adventurer and railroad heir William K. Vanderbilt II bought 20 acres on a wooded hill above Northport Harbor. He hired architects to design and build a bachelor's bungalow, a long wharf and a boathouse. Vanderbilt's cottage, expanded over the years into a mansion, was the beginning of one of Long Island's grand Gold Coast estates, which he called Eagle's Nest.
The Vanderbilt built in three stages from 1910 until 1936?is a unique combination of historic estate and mansion, marine and natural-history museum, planetarium and park. Eagles' Nest, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and home to the Vanderbilt Museum, annually welcomes 100,000 visitors, including 50,000 schoolchildren.
Suffolk County acquired the museum in 1947 and opened it to the public in 1950. Vanderbilt's 24-room, Spanish-Revival mansion was designed by the New York City architectural firm Warren & Wetmore. They also designed and built Grand Central Terminal in New York City (1903-13) for the New York Central Railroad, one of several Vanderbilt family enterprises. Later additions to the mansion and other estate buildings were executed by the architect Ronald H. Pearce
The 43-acre museum complex counts among its collections (which total more than 30,000 objects) the spectacular Vanderbilt mansion, a marine museum, natural-history dioramas and habitats, curator's cottage, seaplane hangar, boathouse, house furnishings and fine art, photographs and archives, and an extensive collection of ethnographic objects that comprise the estate of William K. Vanderbilt II.
Vanderbilt left a legacy of remarkable accomplishments. In his large ocean-going yachts, he circumnavigated the globe twice in the 1920s and 1930s. Accompanied by scientists from the American Museum of Natural History and a photographer and cinematographer, he brought back significant collections of marine and natural-history specimens, ethnographic artifacts from Africa and Asia, and a visual record of his travels.
Vanderbilt's collecting expeditions began in 1922 aboard the Alva, his 213-foot diesel yacht, a former French warship. In that same year, he built a marine museum on the estate. His collections, the beginnings of the museum, grew substantially. By 1937, he had opened the galleries to the public several days a week.
Vanderbilt created auto racing in the United States and inaugurated the famous Vanderbilt Cup Races in 1904. That same year, Vanderbilt, a pioneer American race driver, set a new land-speed record of 92.3 miles per hour in a Mercedes at a course in Daytona Beach, Florida. He also spurred the development of the American auto industry and built the prototype for the first toll road, the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway on Long Island.
The present-day collection includes more than 30,000 objects that support the institution's modern purpose. Interpretive programs in the mansion use furnished room settings to explore social history topics such as the amassing of great fortunes during the Transportation Revolution of the late 19th and early 20th century.
Natural history dioramas and related collections are interpreted in their historical context, and are used for research and to explore modern issues of environmental responsibility. The ethnographic collections support a variety of multicultural school programs, special events and education programs.
One highlight of the collection is a 3,000-year old mummy and polychromed case, purchased in Cairo, Egypt, in 1931. Unique on Long Island, the mummy has been the subject of extensive physical and forensic analysis and forms the basis for one of the museum's most popular school programs. It is believed to date to the 21st dynasty (1080-945 BC).
Unlike many of Vanderbilt's contemporaries whose collections have been disbursed, his remain intact ? a marvel of scientific collecting, documentation and diorama building. The museum has been described as a "time capsule" and a "museum of museums." In fact, it boasts one of the largest privately held collections of marine specimens in the world. In accordance with Vanderbilt's vision, the museum interprets the collections to visitors to increase their appreciation for the diversity of life on this planet, and thereby promote a benevolent view of human nature.
1,369 pieces of fine and decorative arts (including mansion furnishings, textiles, decorative ironwork and paintings)
489 ethnographic artifacts (including firearms and swords, ship models, and European, Asian and African objects)
15,698 marine science and natural history specimens (including butterflies, birds, shells, mammals and fish)
13,013 archival materials (including Vanderbilt's books, photographs and log books
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