History of Black Train Porters, Fearless Watercolor, STEAM Workshops

Boss of the Grips, the Story of Grand Central Terminal’s Red Caps

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum will host Eric K. Washington, a New York City-based independent historian, on Thursday, August 11, for an evening lecture on the life of James H. Williams.

Washington’s lecture will draw heavily from his years of archival research and from his acclaimed 2019 book Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal (Liveright Publishing).

In Boss of the Grips, Washington uncovers the nearly forgotten life of James H. Williams, the Chief Porter of Grand Central Terminal’s Red Caps—a multitude of Harlem-based black men whom he organized into the central labor force of America’s most prestigious train station. Examining the deeply intwined subjects of class, labor, and African American history, Washington’s latest book revives the story of a Harlem Renaissance-era labor figure who navigated segregation to achieve social and financial influence.

Boss of the Grips is the winner of the Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in New York History, GANYC Apple Award for Outstanding Book Writing, and a finalist for the Brendan Gill Prize.

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.


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Eric K. Washington is an A’Lelia Bundles Community Scholar of Columbia University (2014-2017), a CUNY Leon Levy Center for Biography (2015-2016), and a Fellow in Residence of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston/Brown Foundation’s Dora Maar House in Ménerbes, France (2017). He is a member of the American Historical Association (AHA), the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the Organization of American Historians (OAH), and the NYU Biography Seminar. In addition to writing books and creating public history programs, Washinton serves on the board of directors of the Biographers International Organization, and on New York City’s Archives, Reference, and Research Advisory Board.

‘Fearless Watercolors’ with Artist Jan Guarino

Watercolor artist Jan Guarino will offer a Fearless Watercolors class on Monday, August 22, from 12:00 to 2:00 pm in the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Hall of Fishes marine museum, surrounded by stunning preserved fish and mammal specimens.

Fee: $50, $45 for Members.



Beth Laxer-Limmer, Associate Director of Education, said, “The Vanderbilt Museum is excited to have Jan Guarino give a watercolor class in the historic Hall of Fishes. William K. Vanderbilt II built The Hall of Fishes in 1922 to house his extensive and growing collection of marine specimens.

“The Hall features the meticulous work of artist William Belanske, who traveled the world with the Vanderbilts on their yacht Alva and served as the Museum’s first curator. Participants will have the opportunity to be inspired by Belanske’s work and create their own illustrations from beneath the waves.”

Almost U2 to Rock Vanderbilt Mansion Courtyard

The popular tribute band Almost U2 will play its first show in the Vanderbilt Mansion Courtyard on Saturday, August 13, from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. The musicians deliver a tribute to the live experience of the iconic band U2.

Born from the Asbury Park-based band Misfit Johnny, Almost U2 is a tribute to the live experience of the iconic band U2. The musicians perform their tribute with spot-on accuracy and attention to detail. Almost U2 pays homage to some of the greatest moments in concert history from the past four decades: Red Rocks, LiveAid, Slane Castle, and more.

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With music spanning U2’s entire music catalog, the band’s renditions of legendary live performances honor the band and the experience of a real U2 concert. These extraordinary long-time musicians  from New Jersey believe in authenticity and deliver the unmistakable live sounds of the original band. This will be a show U2 fans will never forget. Featuring: John Garofalo, lead vocals; Scott Softy, guitar; keyboards; John Spero, percussion; and Doug Tiedemann, bass.

Pop Up Prana Sunset Yoga Flow, Essential Oil Meditation

Pop Up Prana Yoga will present its second Sunset Yoga evening (including special essential-oil meditation) on Friday, August 19, on the Great Lawn overlooking Northport Bay. Check in at 6:30 pm, session at 7:00. Fee: $30, $15 for age 14 and under.

“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.”



Summer STEAM Workshops for Children Grades K-6

Vanderbilt Museum educators are offering a second week of astronomy, science, and history workshops for children. Junior Explorers is for grades K-4 and Junior Astronomer is for grades 3-6. Sessions for both age groups will be offered Aug 15-19, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Fee: $200 non-members | $180 members. Space is limited and spots fill quickly. Advance registration is required. Facemasks are required indoors.

Junior Explorer, grades K-4

Explore the world at the Vanderbilt Museum in a week of creative science and history workshops. We will 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 4th grade.

(Please note: July and August sessions of each workshop feature the same activities. Therefore, we recommend against registering a child for the same workshop twice.)

Junior Astronomer, grades 3-6

This exciting program for young astronomers features multiple astronomy topics including the solar system, using a telescope, and identifying constellations seen from Long Island backyards. The focus on hands-on learning includes STEAM activities and crafts supplemented by immersive live and pre-recorded full-dome presentations in the Planetarium theater. Registration is open for children entering grades 3-6.

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

Museum Together!, New Program for Families

The Vanderbilt will offer Museum Together!, a new program for families, on Thursday, August 25, from 10:00 to 11:00 am in the Hall of Fishes marine museum. Join a museum educator for a tour of Willam K. Vanderbilt II’s collection of marine life, and make a creative project together.

Fee: $10 per person; members are FREE. Call (631) 854-5539 to reserve a space. Anyone not vaccinated must wear a mask.

Beth Laxer-Limmer, Associate Director of Education, says, “Families will have fun exploring the Museum’s collection of ocean fish and mammals together and collaborating on a work of art.”

Vanderbilt Bricks Mark Milestones, Memories

Celebrate your family, a loved one, a special anniversary, or other milestones and memories by sponsoring a commemorative brick with a custom engraving. Your donation will help the Vanderbilt Museum to bring outstanding science, history, and art education to more than 25,000 students annually.

Your message will be displayed permanently in one of the brick walkways around the Vanderbilt Mansion and Terrace, or on the grounds of the beautiful waterfront Estate.

For more information, call Sue Madlinger at 631-854-5558, or email: sue@vanderbiltmuseum.org

Architectural Details, Famous Ironwork

Come for an intriguing walking tour of the Vanderbilt Estate with knowledgeable Museum educators. Learn about the history of the Eagle’s Nest estate; Warren & Wetmore’s design and exterior architectural details of the 24-room Spanish Revival mansion; and the striking ironwork of Samuel Yellin, considered the greatest iron artisan of the early 20th century.

These Walk and Talk Tours, created by the Vanderbilt Education Department will be offered at 11 am and 12:30 pm on August 10, 20, 24, and 31.

Tickets, which include general admission, are available for purchase only at the door: Adults $16, seniors/students $15, children under 12 $13, and members free.

Beth Laxer-Limmer, associate director of education, said, “The grounds are beautiful at this time of year and the walking tour is a perfect way to be introduced to the history of the estate and collections. There is an abundance of beauty in the eclectic architecture and the unique details that reflect William Vanderbilt’s interests.”

William K. Vanderbilt II (1878-1944) spent summers at his Eagle’s Nest estate and mansion on Northport Bay between 1910 and 1944. He and his wife, Rosamond, hosted intimate gatherings and entertained well-known guests, such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Pierre Cartier, Conde Nast, Charles Lindbergh, and the Tiffanys. Eagle’s Nest is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Shakespeare Festival: ‘The Comedy of Errors’

The 33rd annual Summer Shakespeare Festival continues with The Comedy of Errors, which runs through August 24. Presented in the Mansion courtyard by the Carriage House Players, the festival is sponsored by Bank of America.u

Performances are given on the stage in the Vanderbilt’s beautiful Spanish Revival Courtyard. The Comedy of Errors runs through August 14. The final festival play, Henry V, will run from August 26 through September 18.

Performances: Every Wed and Fri at 8:00 pm, Sunday at 7:00 pm. Tickets: Adults $20; children 12 and under (member child 18 and under) $15; senior (age 62-plus) $15.




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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.”

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