You don’t have to stay home when it rains – there are plenty of rainy day family activities to do indoors at the Vanderbilt.
You and your kids will enjoy seeing the mysterious, 3,000-year old mummy Mr. Vanderbilt brought back from Egypt in 1932. Or you can explore his private, dramatically lighted Habitat, home to nine large dioramas of animal and marine life. Mr. Vanderbilt created the Habitat, employing artisans from the American Museum of Natural History, and showed it only to his friends. (The Habitat was completely restored in 2008.) Its centerpiece, suspended from the ceiling, is the world’s largest taxidermied fish, a 32-foot whale shark caught off Fire Island in 1935. Next to the Habitat is the newly renovated Stoll Wing and its eight wild-animal dioramas.
You and your kids will enjoy looking at the displays of exotic birds, insects and invertebrate marine life in the galleries of the Museum’s Memorial Wing. The cultural artifact collection includes ancient weapons, costumes, tools and ceremonial objects, and a scale model of Mr. Vanderbilt’s largest ship, the 264-foot Alva, in which he circled the globe in 1931-1932 to bring back many of the specimens you’ll see at the Museum.
Want to fly with your kids through outer space? You can, beneath the 60-foot dome in the Vanderbilt’s newly renovated, $4-million Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium. The William and Mollie Rogers Theater has 147 new, ergonomically designed seats for maximum audience comfort. (Check out schedules, and trailers of all shows, on this site.)
The state-of-the-art Konica Minolta star-projection system, designed specifically for the Vanderbilt – which includes advanced, full-dome video and surround-sound technology, and stirring music – creates a thrilling, immersive journey through space. Science and space-related toys, gifts and books are available in the Vanderbilt Museum Gift Shop.
You can see a variety of new programs produced by renowned planetariums in Britain, China and the United States. Among the six shows, young children will enjoy space adventures with Big Bird and Elmo in One World, One Sky, Earth, Moon, and Sun, and Solar System Odyssey, in which a young girl becomes a space explorer with a team looking for a new earth-like planet. Older children can witness the dramatic, awe-inspiring life cycle of stars in Stars, narrated by Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, and Black Holes: Journey into the Unknown.
Take a tour of William K. Vanderbilt II’s mansion. See centuries-old paintings and furniture he collected during extensive world travels. Enjoy an intriguing, history-filled guided tour of the elegant living quarters. Hear tales of the Vanderbilt family and its world-famous summer guests. Marvel at the collections in the natural-history and cultural-artifact galleries. Stroll the gardens and tour the Hall of Fishes marine museum and view up-close the wild animal dioramas of the Habitat and the Stoll Wing.