If you are visiting New York or surrounds, consider shaking things up a bit and take a day trip to discover the Kykuit Estate.
Home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, Kykuit is a 40 room mansion located near Tarry Town, overlooking the Hudson River with the Palisades in the distance, just 40 minutes by train north of Manhattan. This stunning estate was first conceived by John D Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil, and further developed by his son, John D Rockefeller Jr. who raised his five sons here, including Governor Nelson Rockefeller. In turn, Nelson made it his home.
With such an extraordinary history and untold wealth, you would expect exceptional grandeur. However, although the house is luxuriously furnished and superbly appointed, the overriding impression is intelligent and discrete fine taste.
What is exceptional is the art collection. Within the gardens of Kykuit is an outstanding collection of sculpture. Ranging from classical figures to works by notable modern sculptors, the collection is spectacular. The gardens equally so.
The addition of modern international works began in 1963, when Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who shared his mother’s love of modern art, extended the collection. He personally took great care to designate the precise positioning of each work.
An extraordinary collection of paintings and tapestries can be found in the transformed basement passages beneath the mansion (previously a bowling alley). Many of the big names can be found here – Picasso, Chagall, Warhol – the list goes on. Most stunning of all are the tapestries which have been copied from Picasso paintings (the work personally supervised by him) and which hang along the walls of the basement passage way.
The Coach Barn stands quite separate from the mansion but is no less fascinating in the design and contents. There is a collection of classic automobiles (surprisingly not exceptional) and horse-drawn carriages and accompanying tack.
From Manhattan the Metro-North’s Hudson Line trains depart Grand Central Terminal. Take the express to Tarrytown (just 36 minutes) where cabs wait to meet the trains. The ride to the visitor centre (Philipsburg Manor) is approximately 5 minutes. It’s a relaxing journey and easily done. It’s advisable to book ahead for a timed tour.
Call 914-613-8200 or visit http://www.hudsonvalley.org/historic-sites/kykuit for further information and directions.