Although you could visit the Suffolk County Historical Society Museum in Riverhead, New York, alone, it’s a great place to take the entire family. After all, not only will your kids have fun, but at the same time, they will learn interesting facts about the history of Suffolk County.
The Back Story
Several innovative residents within the county founded the museum in 1886, shortly after the end of the Civil War. They wanted a way to preserve Suffolk County’s heritage. Having finished celebrating the Centennial, they realized the world was changing. Thus, they chose the County Seat of Riverhead as the society’s location.
In addition, County Surrogate Judge James H. Tuthill served as its first President. Almost immediately, they began to collect items to display in Tuthill’s office inside a small glass case. But the collection grew so large within just seven years. So they moved the headquarters into a building previously used by the County Clerk’s Office.
But the collection again outgrew the space. Thus, Alice Perkins, a member of a prominent family and widow of John Perkins, donated acreage along the Peconic River. Building construction ended in 1930. But in 1951, they added two wings to accommodate a growing collection.
The society’s building landed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Currently, the Suffolk County Historical Society Museum displays more than 20,000 artifacts. To ensure ongoing success, the museum maintains permanent displays and changes exhibits.
The historical artifacts fall into specific categories. A few examples of these include:
- Decorative Arts
- Folk Arts
- Ethnographic History
- Natural History
For one thing, you’ll discover all kinds of unusual artifacts, many of which come from donations. For another, the museum includes collections from around the county. As a result, it’s diverse and fascinating. Even if you’re not a Civil War-era enthusiast, the things you’ll see and learn will leave a lasting impression.
The museum often hosts special events alongside many exhibits on and off-site. Here are a few examples.
The Suffolk County Pine Barrens Pictorial is one of the society’s off-site exhibits. It includes a display that shows how the Pine Barrens helped protect the county’s groundwater. Keep in mind that the exhibit is only on loan. But you can see it by heading to 260 Motor Parkway in Hauppauge, New York.
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- Book & Bottle – Historian Bill Bleyer will go into detail about the Steamboat Lexington that sank on Long Island Sound. In Long Island’s history, it was the worst maritime disaster to occur. You can see it on Saturday, April 23, 2023, at 1:00 p.m.,
- The North Fork Project – Experts from Team Will plan to present their in-depth research about the enslaved people of North Fork. If you’re interested in attending, it’s scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, 2023, at 300 W. Main Street in Riverhead, NY.
- Archie to Zany – For something a little more lighthearted, Stan Goldberg will present 65 years of comic book art. This particular event kicked off in October 2022. But it’ll continue through May 20, 2023.
- Masters of Metals – During and after the Civil War, artisans made all kinds of items from metal. Better known as silversmithing, it remains popular today. It, too, will take place at 300 Main through January 24, 2024.