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Centerport, New York

Vanderbilt Museum

An eccentric playboy's astounding natural history collection. 

The Vanderbilt Museum on Long Island, New York is housed in the mansion once owned by William K. Vanderbilt II (the great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, founder of the New York Central Railroad and the Staten Island Ferry). “Willie K.” was an avid sailor and collector. He traveled around the globe, collecting artifacts and natural history specimens, some from the ocean floor by Willie K. himself, as he loved to dive.

The Vanderbilt Museum has something for everyone. Beautiful sprawling grounds for the horticultural enthusiast, an insect collection for the entomology buff, a Spanish Revival mansion known as the Eagle’s Nest for lovers of architecture, taxidermy for the natural historian, a 3000 year old mummy for the historian, and best of all a huge collection of marine specimens. The “Hall of Fishes” boasts one of the largest privately held collections of marine specimens in the world, not to mention the mounted whale shark, at 32 feet long, the largest fish taxidermy in the world.

A sprawling and eccentric collection, centered around the house and estate of Willie K. Vanderbilt, it represents the mind of a man who was curious about everything and could afford to investigate it all.

We explored the Vanderbilt on Obscura Day - Marth 20th, 2010