If you’re looking for family fun, spend an intriguing afternoon with your children at the Vanderbilt Museum and Mansion. You can tour the 24-room, Spanish-style mansion overlooking Northport Bay. Your walk through the grand house is a time-machine trip to the Long Island Gold Coast and the life of one of America’s wealthiest and most powerful families from the 1920s through the 1940s. You’ll find that the grand house, filled with priceless centuries-old art and furnishings, resembles an elegant, intriguing movie set.
In one wing of the Mansion, your kids will enjoy seeing the mysterious, 3,000-year old mummy Mr. Vanderbilt brought back from Egypt in 1932. Beneath Mr. Vanderbilt’s elegant, paneled library, you’ll enjoy exploring his private, dramatically lighted Habitat, home to nine huge dioramas of animal and marine life. The Habitat, shown only to his friends, was created by the American Museum of Natural History. Closed to the public in 1996, the Habitat was completely restored and reopened in 2008.
Like most visitors, you’ll be awed by the Habitat 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 are the eight wild-animal dioramas of the newly-renovated Stoll Wing.
Kids also love checking out the astonishing sea creatures – some are gigantic – in The Hall of Fishes marine museum. They also enjoy looking at the displays of bird, insect and invertebrate marine life in the galleries of the Museum’s Memorial Wing. The cultural-artifact collections include ancient weapons, costumes, tools and ceremonial objects, and a huge 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.