Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

Department: Archives
180 Little Neck Rd
Centerport, NY 11721
Phone: 631-854-5579
Allison McGovern, PhD - [email protected]

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum


The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is a unique combination of mansion, marine and natural history museum, planetarium. Located in Centerport, New York, the museum is the former estate of William K. Vanderbilt II (1878-1944), the great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt and a pioneer of American motorsport. During his lifetime, Vanderbilt amassed one of the largest private collections of marine and natural history specimens in the world and used his Long Island estate as a place to house and display them. The estate served as an educational space for the Long Island community during Mr. Vanderbilt’s lifetime, and after his death was gifted to Suffolk County to remain as a place of education and entertainment. Since 1950, the SCVM has been dedicated to the education and enjoyment of the people of Long Island and beyond. Exhibitions and educational programs at the Museum thematize Long Island’s Gold Coast Era and build upon Vanderbilt’s desire that his collections promote appreciation and understanding of the marvelous diversity of life, other cultures, and scientific knowledge. 

The Vanderbilt Museum’s archives contain a wealth of records relating to the life of William Kissam Vanderbilt II and his extended family. Its collections include several thousand photographs, documents, and ephemera of Mr. Vanderbilt’s travels in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as materials related to the creation and daily operations of his estate and museum. The collections also speak to the history of the Vanderbilt family in the 20th Century, with the materials of the Vanderbilt family and estates leading up to the Post-War Era. Additionally, there are also materials pertaining to early automobile history, including records of the Long Island Motor Parkway and Vanderbilt Cup.  

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is a member of the Long Island Library Resources Council.


Parkway Sweepstakes 1908

Items related to the history of the Long Island Motor Parkway.

Muriel Vanderbilt at Pebble Beach Stables, California, 1925 – 1929.

Documentary materials of Mr. Vanderbilt’s daughter, Muriel.

James B. Schafer speaking to a crowd at Peace Haven, 1939

Photographs of the Idle Hour estate as “Peace Haven.”