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$100,000 grant to restore Vanderbilt Museum dioramas

Suffolk’s Vanderbilt Museum will reopen its planetarium March

Suffolk’s Vanderbilt Museum will reopen its planetarium March 15. The planetarium will feature new shows produced by planetariums as far away as Great Britain and China, as well as high-definition video from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and other satellites. Credit: Handout

A centerpiece of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport — eight dioramas featuring animals from Africa, Alaska, the American West, the Arctic, the former British Honduras (now Belize), Canada, India and Nova Scotia — are about to be restored thanks to a $100,000 gift.

Museum officials announced they had received the money from the Roy M. Speer Foundation to endow the restoration and modernization of the dioramas in memory of Charles H. Stoll. A trustee and benefactor of the museum, Stoll was a lawyer, noted explorer, naturalist and big-game hunter who created and financed the museum’s Stoll Wing animal habitat dioramas, which were opened to the public in 1970.

“The Speer family’s spectacular gift will enable us to restore the Stoll Wing and its amazing specimens, key elements of our education programs,” said Lance Reinheimer, interim executive director of the museum.

The gift was made in Stoll’s memory by his granddaughter, Lynnda Speer, and her husband, Roy, through the foundation, museum officials said.

Stoll brought back the specimens, which include 15 animals and 30 mounted heads, from trips he and his wife, Merle, made between 1922 and 1969. The specimens include a blue wildebeest, polar bear, walrus, Cape buffalo, kudu, ostrich, jaguar, Bengal tiger and leopard.


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