The Vanderbilt Mansion Library has a new attraction, a preserved Bald Eagle on long-term loan from the The Heckscher Museum of Art, made on behalf of the Town of Huntington. The bird is a fitting addition to the estate of William K. Vanderbilt II, known as Eagle’s Nest. The loan, from the Heckscher’s legacy collection, was made possible by collaborative efforts among leadership of the museums and the Town of Huntington, which has owned the Heckscher Museum since 1954.
The eagle, which measures 23 inches seated on its mount, was likely one of the initial Heckscher family gifts and is part of the Museum’s legacy collection. In speaking about the legacy collection, Dr. Michael Schantz, executive director and CEO of the Heckscher Museum, said “it included a vast collection of fine and decorative art and diverse cultural objects — specifically, collections of lace, minerals, shells, tools, armaments — as well as numerous Egyptian and American Indian pieces. Objects of this nature are not part of the Museum’s educational and collecting focus as the emphasis is on fine art, not natural history or ethnographic artifacts.” The eagle has been in archival storage for decades, Schantz said: “We found the perfect home for it as The Heckscher Museum leadership wanted to keep this majestic bird local and have it be useful to the mission of another institution. We are pleased to place this fine specimen on long-term loan at the Vanderbilt where it will be used as an educational tool in a way not possible at The Heckscher Museum of Art.” Stephanie Gress, the Vanderbilt’s director of curatorial affairs, said, “The eagle will join numerous other birds in the Vanderbilt’s natural-history collection, and become an important part of education programming.” The Vanderbilt natural-history collection includes 569 birds, and the Bald Eagle will be number 570. Gress said 550 birds are exhibited in various parts of the museum. The Bird Room is home to 323, with the remainder on display in the Memorial Wing, Habitat, Sudan Trophy Room, Stoll Wing and Library.