Living Pictures: Gilded Age Portrait Photography
Pauwels is an Associate Professor of American Art at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture with a special interest in photography, media theory, and ecocriticism. Her first book, Napoleon Sarony’s Living Pictures: The Celebrity Photograph in Gilded Age New York (Penn State University Press, 2024), recontextualizes the legacy of a prominent nineteenth-century artist to reveal how the emergence of mass media and celebrity culture reshaped traditional definitions of art and artistic authorship.
Her lecture will examine the vibrant history of Sarony, a celebrity photographer once known as “the father of artistic photography in America.” During the last three decades of the nineteenth century, Sarony’s opulent portrait studio on Union Square was a New York City landmark visited by famous figures such as Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, and Mark Twain.
“Sarony was best known for his fusion of theater and photography,” Pauwels said. “He constructed elaborate studio settings, invented a special posing stand that created the illusion of motion, and encouraged subjects to perform for his camera.”
Pauwels’ lecture will describe Sarony’s innovative artistic methods, his colorful encounters with Gilded Age clientele, and his lasting impact on the art of photography. Her book offers the first comprehensive account of a major American photographer and the global reach of his work.
Tickets: $10 | Members free
Erin Pauwels earned a Ph.D. in Art History and American Studies at Indiana University in 2015 and an M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University in 2008. Her work appears in the journals American Art, Panorama, and History & Technology, as well as in edited volumes such as Acting Out: Cabinet Cards and the Making of Modern Photography (University of California Press, 2020) and Beyond the Face: New Perspectives on Portraiture (Smithsonian Institution, 2018).
Name a New Chair in the Reichert Planetarium
Observe a milestone, honor a loved one, or name a chair for your family or organization.
Dedicate | Celebrate | Recognize | Memorialize
Your nameplate will remain in place for the life of the seat. (It does not reserve the use of the seat.)More Details
Storytime Under Stars: Good Books and Stargazing
Sponsored by Bank of America
Join us for a special evening of storytelling and stargazing in the Reichert Planetarium. All children are invited to wear their comfiest pajamas and bring their favorite stuffed animal.
A live narrator at the front of the theater will bring selected picture books to life, with pages projected onto the Planetarium dome so families can enjoy the illustrations and follow along. Between stories, an astronomy educator will explore seasonal constellations visible from here on Long Island.
Admission fee: $8 per person | $6 for members.
Come Celebrate the ‘Year of the Dragon’ at Vanderbilt
Join us in celebrating the Year of the Dragon!
Make a paper lantern, learn Chinese calligraphy, create a traditional good luck decoration, and visit the collections to see one of the animals in the Chinese Zodiac.
Sunday, February 11, from 10:00 am to 12 pm
Tickets: $20 guests | $18 members
‘Laser Taylor Swift’ Extended through March
With more than 200 million records sold, a shelf full of Grammys, and an army of fans, Taylor Swift is an inspiration for generations. This dynamic show takes her biggest hits and brings them to life in dazzling laser light.
Tickets: $18. (Free for Museum members.)
Setlist: You Need To Calm Down, Love Story, Anti-Hero Exile, Look What You Made Me Do, Willow, Lavender Haze, I Knew You Were Trouble, Blank Space, You Belong With Me, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Shake It Off.
Membership: The Gift You Can Reopen All Year
The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium is a membership institution that provides benefits and privileges to its members in recognition of their annual support.
Membership fees are fully tax-deductible as allowed by law.
‘Haunting Menagerie’, Museum’s First Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition
On Earth Day, April 22, 2023, the Vanderbilt Museum debuted Wendy Klemperer: Wrought Taxonomies, the first exhibition of outdoor sculpture at the historic summer estate of William Kissam Vanderbilt II.
Wendy Klemperer’s sculptures—a haunting assemblage of animal forms that span imaginary, endangered, familiar, and exotic species—celebrate natural history and the nonhuman world through evocative interactions with the surrounding environment.
Using materials salvaged from scrapyards, she composes ecological narratives that respond to the history and collections of Suffolk County’s first public park and museum. Her brilliant use of gestural lines captures the spectator’s attention and invites museumgoers to reflect on the relationship between an interest in animal life and the incessant push of human industry.
Wrought Taxonomies is the inaugural exhibition in the Vanderbilt Museum’s outdoor sculpture program and the institution’s second exhibition of contemporary art focused on the relationship between culture and animals. Visitors will see large pieces visitors as they stroll the grounds of the Vanderbilt, one of the few remaining Long Island Gold Coast mansions. Smaller pieces suspended from trees wait to be discovered along the Vanderbilt’s hiking trail. Other works will be found near garden areas and the Marine Museum.
The Vanderbilt Museum occupies the former Gold Coast mansion and estate of William Kissam Vanderbilt II, the great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt and a pioneer of American motorsport. Located in Centerport on the north shore of Long Island, it is renowned for its extensive marine and natural history collections, Spanish revival architecture, and picturesque parklands.
All sculptures are viewable with general admission to the Museum grounds. Educational programs and workshops associated with the themes and content of Wendy Klemperer: Wrought Taxonomies will be offered throughout the exhibition. Special thanks are due to the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, whose generous support made Wrought Taxonomies possible. The exhibition will run through April 22, 2024.
Visitors are encouraged, during these weeks of mild autumn weather, to enjoy a picnic on the grounds.
Vanderbilt Wine Supports Education, Preservation
Eagle’s Nest, the waterfront estate of William K. Vanderbilt II, is the home of the Vanderbilt Museum and Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium.
Help us preserve this vital piece of local and national history. STEM education programs are based on Vanderbilt’s marine, natural history, and cultural artifact collections. Educational planetarium offerings are provided to more than 25,000 schoolchildren each year. Please purchase wine today and support our mission.