Coming Up This Spring at the Vanderbilt

Rescheduled — ‘Deadlines and Diamonds’: Female Gilded Age Tycoon

Best-selling author and historian Betsy Prioleau will speak about her latest book, Diamonds and Deadlines: A Tale of Greed, Deceit, and a Female Tycoon in the Gilded Age, at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum. The event, which will feature a lecture and book signing, was originally set for Saturday, April 9. It has been rescheduled for Thursday, April 21, at 6:00 pm in the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium. Tickets are $10.00.

Diamonds and Deadlines is the first major biography of the glamorous and scandalous Miriam Leslie – a titan of publishing and an unsung hero of women’s suffrage. Copies of Betsy Prioleau’s book will be on sale at the event and available for pre-order through the ticketing portal.

Among the fabled tycoons of the Gilded Age – Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt – is a forgotten figure: Mrs. Frank Leslie. For 20 years she ran the country’s largest publishing empire which chronicled postbellum America in dozens of weeklies and monthlies. A pioneer in an all-male industry, she made a fortune and became a national celebrity and tastemaker.

But Miriam Leslie was a byword for scandal. She flouted feminine mores, took lovers, married four times, and harbored unsavory secrets she concealed through a skein of lies and multiple personas. At her death, she dropped a bombshell: she left her multimillion-dollar estate to women’s suffrage – a never-equaled amount that guaranteed the passage of the 19th Amendment.

In a feature-length March 19 review, The Wall Street Journal said Prioleau “brings this forgotten woman vividly to life…The author is sympathetic to her subject, whom she presents as a pathbreaker overcoming the strictures placed on the women of her day. Along the way, she provides a wider picture of the society Miriam inhabited, with its extremes of affluence and penury.”


Workshops: Pollinators, Butterflies, Bug Portraits

The Vanderbilt Museum Education Department will offer fun, creative children’s workshops for grades K-4 during the school spring break on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, April 18-20, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm.

April 18: Pollinators & Plants

April 19: Butterflies & Lifecycle Mobile

April 20: Invertebrates & Bug Portrait

Advance registration is required. Fee: $20, and $18 for members.

Register for Pollinators

Register for Butterflies

Register for Invertebrates

Beth Laxer-Limmer, associate director of education, said, “We’ll explore the collections, investigate pollinators of all kinds, invertebrates on land and in the sea, and create things that celebrate the wonder of nature.”

‘Mapping Penguins’: Scientist Tracks Wildlife in Antarctica

Professor Heather J. Lynch will give Mapping Penguins, with Satellites, Drones, and Other Technologies, the inaugural lecture in the Vanderbilt’s Ecology and Climate Change lecture series on Thursday, April 14, at 7:00 pm in the Reichert Planetarium. Tickets: $6.00.

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 fieldwork 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,” Lynch said. “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.



Enjoy Sunset Yoga Flow on the Great Lawn

Jennifer Eagen of Pop Up Prana Yoga will offer her first 2022 Sunset Yoga on Friday, April 15, on the Great Lawn overlooking Northport Harbor. Check-in begins at 6:00 pm for the 6:30 session. One hour with a 10-minute meditation. Class ends at 8:00. Fee: $30.00.



Open to practitioners of all levels. All props and mats will be provided upon request. Rain dates will be determined as the event approaches. Note: tickets are non-refundable.

“Kick off your weekend with a beautiful view on the Great Lawn overlooking Northport Harbor,” said Jenn Eagen of Pop Up Prana Yoga. “This is an open-level yoga practice. If you are new to yoga, feel free to join us. If you are an advanced yogi and seek growth, no worries. You will have an opportunity to shine and improvise your own variations throughout the session.”

Birdwatch, Architecture Tour of Vanderbilt Estate Grounds

On Friday, April 22, at 8:00 am, the Museum will offer its second early morning Birdwatch and Architecture Tour with the Vanderbilt’s director of curatorial affairs. Participants will enjoy the unique opportunity to view the Vanderbilt estate in the early dawn hours, when the grounds are still closed but the birds are active.

Tickets are free for members, $12.00 for non-members. Sturdy hiking footwear is strongly suggested. Participants are asked to bring their own binoculars.


Morning birdwatches are semi-regular touring events offered during the fall and spring months, when local and migratory bird species are at their most active and visible – during the first northward wave of migration along the Atlantic flyway.

Each “birdwatch” will feature aspects of the estate’s architectural history while participants view the Vanderbilt’s resident avian species and hear their calls and songs. Some of the species observed and identified recently at the Vanderbilt Museum include red-tailed hawks, osprey, merlin, brant, northern flickers, great-horned owls, grackle, white-breasted nuthatch, mourning doves, and more.

‘Wildlife Diversity:’ Join Biologist and Animal Friends

Eric Powers, a biologist, and ranger with the Center for Environmental Education and Discovery (CEED), will introduce Vanderbilt visitors to his “animal ambassadors” on Saturday, April 16. He will offer Presentations at 9:00 and 10:30 am. Tickets are $15.00.

“Discover where in the world they come from, their special adaptations and more,” Powers said. “You could meet exotic bugs, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.”

Register for 9:00 AM Register for 10:30 AM


Shakespeare Festival Opener: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

The Carriage House Players (CHP) will open the 33rd annual Summer Shakespeare Festival on the Vanderbilt Mansion Courtyard stage with A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Friday, May 13, at 8:00 pm and on Sunday, May 13, at 7:00 pm.

Performances: Every Wed and Fri at 8 pm, Sunday at 7 pm

Much Ado About Nothing – June 5-26

Troilus and Cressida – July 1-24 (excluding July 15 and 22)

The Comedy of Errors – July 29-Aug14

Henry V – Aug 26-Sept 18

Tickets: Adults $20; children 12 and under (member child 18 and under) $15; senior (age 62-plus) $15.


Evan Donnellan, director of CHP, said, “We are so excited to return to the Vanderbilt Courtyard for their annual Summer Shakespeare Festival. With a wide mix of comedy and tragedy, the festival has something for everyone. Join us under the stars for nights of timeless magic as these classical stories come to life before your very eyes.”

Seismologist Explores Volatile Dynamics of the Earth’s Crust

Marine seismologist Dr. William Bythewood Hawley will speak at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum on Thursday, May 5, at 7:00 pm. His lecture, Tectonic Problems: Why the Foundations of Modern Geology Remain Elusive,” will introduce listeners to contemporary debates in geology and the theory of plate tectonics.


The modern theory of plate tectonics holds that the Earth’s lithosphere is composed of several large plates that have been slowly moving across the planet’s surface for 3.4 billion years. These plates, which are cool, relatively solid masses, are thought to ride on the less dense, fluid-like asthenosphere. Over time, the theory of plate tectonics maintains that these plates will collide and separate, causing earthquakes, mountains, and other dramatic geophysical phenomena, all while gradually rearranging the continents.

Our understanding of the volatile dynamics of the Earth’s crust – the modern theory of plate tectonics – represents a relatively recent scientific accomplishment. Based on Alfred Wegener’s 1912 description of “continental drift,” the modern theory of plate tectonics remained highly contentious until the early 1960s. Even today, there are many issues with the theory that stir significant scientific controversy.

In Tectonic Problems, Hawley will explore some of what remains unknown in the current theory of plate tectonics. He will explain how the theory of plate tectonics, while offering a compelling qualitative picture of long-term Earth evolution, isn’t quite a theory but something more like a series of observations. He will explore the missing ground—the dynamical description—that the theory lacks and point to the key questions researchers must answer before further developing the theory. He will ask, how is the bottom of a tectonic plate is defined? What does it look like? And how does it interact with the mantle underneath? In raising these questions, Hawley will strike at the core of geology and the modern scientific process.

Hawley is a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2019, and his B.A. in physics and astrophysics from Harvard in 2012.


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