Enduring Revolutionary War Mystery, Kids’ Self-Portraits, Author Reads at ‘Storytime’

Lecture: A Lost Story of the Revolutionary War

The noted historian Benjamin Carp will explore the Great New York Fire of 1776, a mystery of the American Revolution, in a lecture on Thursday, February 16, in the Vanderbilt Museum’s Reichert Planetarium. Carp’s book on the devastating fire – one of the great mysteries of our early nation – is forthcoming from Yale University Press.

Carp’s presentation will draw heavily from his years of research and from his book The Great New York Fire of 1776: A Lost Story of the American Revolution (Yale University Press); publication date: January 31. In his book, Carp reconstructs the political climate of eighteenth-century North America and highlights the significance of New York City as a strategic center in the American War of Independence. He returns to the summer of 1776, when the rebel army under George Washington repeatedly threatened to burn New York City to the ground rather than see it fall under British control.

Under these circumstances and days into the British occupation of the city, a tremendous fire swept across Manhattan, destroying a fifth of its buildings and creating the conditions for riot and plunder. Was this devastating fire the result of an accident at a tavern? Or was it started under direct orders from the revolutionary commander? Carp’s important retelling of this seminal but largely forgotten event features some of the American Revolution’s most important figures, including Nathan Hale, an early patriot with special importance for Long Island, and another lesser-known spy who deserves equal adulation.

Advanced praise: “Benjamin Carp’s impressive new study represents a pathbreaking investigation of the role of fire in the American Revolution. Full of twists and turns, this beautifully crafted book will definitely fascinate and inform… Highly recommended!” – James Kirby Martin, author of Insurrection

The lecture will take place at 7:00 pm in the Museum’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium.


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Benjamin L. Carp is the Daniel M. Lyons Chair of American History at Brooklyn College and affiliated faculty in the history program at the Graduate Center of the City University of the New York (CUNY). He specializes in the history of the American Revolution and the eighteenth century, particularly in the seaport cities of eastern North America. He has written about firefighting, gunpowder explosions, fear, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson’s Embargo of 1807-1809.

In addition to books and academic articles, Carp has written for BBC History, Colonial Williamsburg, The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He received a B.A. in history from Yale University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia.

Workshops: Mixed Media Selfies, Winter Blooms

Children in grades K-3 can learn and have a lot of fun in two February school recess (week of February 20-25) workshops offered by educators at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum.

Mixed Media Self-Portrait

Monday, February 20: See Vanderbilt family portraits in the historic house and create a mixed media “selfie” portrait.

Winter Blooms

Wednesday, February 22: Explore the ways living things get energy, examine plant bulbs, and make a bulb-forcing container with paperwhite narcissus.

Beth Laxer-Limmer, Associate Director of Education, said, “Our art and science workshops are a great way for kids to have fun learning in the collections and to create unique art.”

Workshops are offered from 10 am to 12 pm. Fee: $20 / $18 for members.


The Rescue Effect: The Key to Saving Life on Earth

On Thursday, March 16, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum 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.

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. He will also 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.

The lecture will take place at 7:00 pm in the Museum’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium. Tickets are available online at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s website.

Michael Mehta Webster is a Professor of Practice in the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University. He earned a Ph.D. in Zoology at Oregon State University, and a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin.

Webster is an expert in ecology, biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, and philanthropy. His research focuses on how to promote the adaptation of species and ecosystems to ongoing environmental change. Much of his recent work has centered on reef-building corals, which are struggling to adjust to warming ocean temperatures and a host of other environmental changes.

Prior to joining NYU, Webster led efforts to improve the management and conservation of coral reefs as the Executive Director of the Coral Reef Alliance. He has also held positions as a Visiting Research Scientist at NYU, a Visiting Professor of Practice at Cornell University, and a Postdoctoral Researcher at Oregon State University.

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Author to Read Her Book in Next ‘Storytime’ Event    

The cover of "BLUE: A history of the color as deep as the sea and wide as the sky" by Nana Brew-Hammond. A young Black girl is using a mortar and pestle to create blue pigment.The Vanderbilt Museum’s next Storytime Under the Stars is set for Sunday, February 26, from 6:00 to 7:00 pm in the Reichert Planetarium. Join author Nana Brew-Hammond for a live reading of her award-winning book Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky.

Tickets: $10 | $8 for Members.

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Discover a world of creativity and tradition in this fascinating picture book that explores the history and cultural significance of the color blue. Children and parents will see the story come to life on the Planetarium dome as they listen to the author read.

While the author reads her book, the pages will be projected overhead on the Planetarium dome for all to enjoy the stunning illustrations and for readers to follow along. Many pages will be accompanied by visual and audio effects to complement the narrative.

Following the reading, families can take part in related craft activities in the planetarium lobby.

Questions? Email beth@vanderbiltmuseum.org

Stunning and informative—and as profoundly rich as the color blue.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Brew-Hammond was a nominee for the 54th NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work. Her book was named among the best books of 2022 by National Public Radio, the New York Public Library, Evanston Public Library, Kirkus Reviews, and The Center for the Study of Multicultural Literature.


Paved with Love: A Valentine Gift That Lasts Forever

Looking for a fresh, unique, everlasting gift for your Valentine?

Purchase and engrave a brick that will become a permanent part of the Vanderbilt Museum.

Your donation will help the Vanderbilt to bring outstanding science, history, and art education to more than 25,000 students annually.

Your brick will be installed and displayed installed in your favorite brick walkway around the Vanderbilt Mansion and Terrace, or on the 43-acre grounds of the beautiful waterfront Estate.

Purchase a Brick


For more information, call Debbie Stacel at 631-854-5579, or email: debbie@vanderbiltmuseum.org

Curator to Lead Morning Birdwatch-Architecture Tours

On select spring dates at 8:00 am, the Vanderbilt Museum will offer an 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.

Schedule: March 18 | April 1, 15, 29 | May 13

Tickets are free for members, $12.00 for non-members.

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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 include red-tailed hawks, osprey, merlin, brant, northern flickers, great-horned owls, grackle, white-breasted nuthatch, mourning doves, and more.

Summer Science Fun for Children in Grades K-5

2023 Summer Science Fun. Dates: July 10-14 or August 14-18. $200/$180 members. Jr Astronomer Workshop, Grades 3-5. Junior Explorer Workshop, Grades K-3. Click here for more information.Fascinating, fun summer learning for grades K-5! Vanderbilt Museum science educators will offer Junior Explorer and Astronomer workshops for children in two, week-long sessions in July and August. Sail the seas, dive the oceans, make unique art. Advance registration is required.

Summer Science Fun

July 10-14 or August 14-18

9 am – 12 pm

$200 non-members | $180 members

Interested in membership? Learn more here.

Become a Member


Space is limited and spots fill quickly! Advance registration is required.

For more information and to register, please contact dawn@vanderbilltmuseum.org.

Junior Explorer Workshop Grades K-3

Explore the world at the Vanderbilt Museum!

Join us for a week of creative science and history workshops. We’ll sail the seas, dive the deepest oceans, soar among the tallest trees, and make unique art inspired by nature and the collections.

Registration is open for children entering Kindergarten through  3rd grade.

Register JULY Jr Explorer Workshop Register AUGUST Jr Explorer Workshop


Junior Astronomer Workshop Grades 3-5

The Reichert Planetarium presents an exciting program for young astronomers!

Junior Astronomers have the opportunity to learn about multiple astronomy topics including our solar system, how to use a telescope, and how to identify constellations they can see from their own backyard. This program focuses on hands-on learning with STEAM activities and crafts supplemented by immersive live and pre-recorded fulldome presentations in our Planetarium theater.

Registration is open for children entering 3rd through 5th grade.


Register JULY Jr Astronomer Workshop Register AUGUST Jr Astronomer Workshop


The July and August sessions of each workshop will feature the same activities.

For this reason, we recommend against registering a child for the same workshop twice.

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