HISTORICAL CORNER

The Long Island Museum

Each week reporter and history-lover Mariana Dominguez visits a historical location on Long Island. This week, she ventured to the North Shore to visit the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook.

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After exploring a park in Stony Brook last week, I decided to venture back to the North Shore to visit the Long Island Museum. I had visited the museum as a child, but was excited to revisit it as an adult.

When I arrived at the visitor’s center, I was thrilled to see that I was there for the last day of the “Colors of Long Island” exhibit. The exhibit, in its 23rd year, showcases the artwork of hundreds of students across Long Island. The theme of the exhibit, “Colors of Long Island,” allows teachers to choose from many different interpretations. Last year, the exhibit was on a hiatus due to the pandemic. As it was the last day of the exhibit when I was there, many students and families were visiting to see their artwork hung in a museum.

After leaving the visitor’s center, I meandered over to the Carriage Museum across the street. I remembered visiting the carriage museum as a child and loving it, and can see many children today still enjoying the exhibits. They will get to see so many carriages and even get to interact with some of the exhibits.

The museum goes into great detail about transportation before cars, from the simple to the extravagant. My favorite exhibit was the “Gentleman’s Coach House” gallery, which is set up like a 19th-century Gold Coast carriage house. The gallery also has a section showcasing beautiful and ornate European carriages that were used by European nobility. I was also a big fan of the “Carriage Exposition” gallery, which is inspired by the 1893 World’s Fair transportation building. The other galleries visitors can see are the “Going Places” gallery, “Making Carriages: From Hometown Shop to Factory,” the “Street of New York” gallery and the “Driving for Sport and Pleasure” gallery.

Because it was raining during my visit, I was unable to explore the grounds as much as I would have liked. The Long Island Museum is expansive, covering 9 acres and housing many buildings. The Nassakeag (South Setauket) Schoolhouse is one of the buildings I did not visit and another one I remember well from my childhood. According to the museum website, the structure was built in 1877 on Sheep Pasture Road, South Setauket, and served approximately 30 students annually. The building was moved to The Museums at Stony Brook in 1956. Another great building to visit is the Samuel H. West Blacksmith Shop. The museum’s website states that the building was built in 1834, but was reconstructed between 1875 and 1893 by Samuel H. West. West ran a horseshoeing, wheel-making and repairing and blacksmith shop out of the building. The building was donated to The Museums at Stony Brook in 1952. Other buildings or structures you can see on the museum grounds include a fountain and horse trough, the Ploch-Williamson Barn, an herb garden, sculptures, and the famous crocheted trees.

The Long Island Museum would make a great weekend day trip for those on the South Shore looking to bring their kids or grandkids somewhere fun and educational. There is so much to explore on the grounds and in the museums, and visitors are right in the heart of downtown Stony Brook.

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