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Lance Mallamo, Executive Dir, Vanderbilt Museum
October 20, 2006 @ 12:00 am EDT
Friday morning’s speaker, J. Lance Mallamo who is the Executive Director of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium at Centerport as well as the official County Historian of Suffolk County enlightened LIMBA members about Long Island’s largest museum, The Vanderbilt Museum. Vanderbilt (Dutch) meaning Son of Built left this jewel to Suffolk County in 1941 along with a $2 million maintenance fund. Today nearly 100,000 school children and a “tremendous” number of foreigners tour this museum.
This sometimes arrogant, yet insightful man had the foresight in the early 1900’s to believe Long Island would one day be home to over a million people. Many Long Islanders think of Vanderbilt Parkway and associate it with car racing. As a well traveled man, Vanderbilt felt that Europe was eclipsing the development of the automobile and in 1904 he raced his Mercedes at 92 miles an hour and won the race. Although Long Island was sparsely populated 250 people came to see the race – many had never seen a car. He was encouraging tourism even then! Imagine this fact: His doctors warned against this high speed because of his heart murmur!
I thought the most interesting of reasons to go back to the museum is for the “Living History Tour”. Tour guides are trained to portray the probable life style of the Vanderbilt family, their servants and how life may have actually been lived between 1936 and 1944. Current events play an important role here. It must have been a great job to be a servant there during the great depression. Both good times and bad are blended into the tours.
Presently there is no way to get down to the waterfront however plans are in the works for funding a boardwalk with the “goal of being Long Island’s premier waterfront institution.”
Other interesting facts:
– The boathouse is being used again and has gone from one employee to over ten in the last four years.
– Water Loggers: volunteers are coordinated to bring back water samples from various points off the Island for evaluation
– Hopeful restoration of the Seaplane hanger
– They have a Marine Science Program
You can visit the museum and enjoy planetarium, the “Living History Tours” and many of their special programs http://vanderbiltmuseum.org/flash.html