Interning at Cheekwood // Nashville, TN

Article written by Allyson, a graduate student in the dual MAAA/MPA program at SPEA. During the academic year Allyson serves as a Graduate Assistant at the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation and as a Teaching Assistant for Professor Wilkerson. She is currently interning with Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art in Nashville, TN.

On May 17th I packed up my car and drove to Nashville, TN to start my summer internship in the Development Department at the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art.

View of the grounds from the Museum of Art drive.

View of the Cheekwood grounds from the Museum of Art drive.

I first heard about Cheekwood when I was Googling art museums in Nashville in the Fall of 2014, looking for possible internship opportunities. Cheekwood was the first link that came up and I decided to check it out. It seemed pretty neat, an institution that combined the beauty of nature and art with a goal of inspiring and nurturing visitors. In January, I decided to check it out. Even in the middle of winter, the gardens and museum were breathtaking! Cheekwood is actually an old estate from the Cheek family (who helped found Maxwell House Coffee). The mansion, which is now the Museum of Art, sits on a hill within about 50 acres of beautifully landscaped and curated grounds. The museum is partially historical and partially contemporary art and the grounds exhibit contemporary sculptures in various gardens and a sculpture trail through the forest. The day I visited in January, I knew this was a place I wanted to be.

On Monday, May 18th, I drove up to the Museum of Art to begin my first day in the Development Department. I wasn’t sure what to expect because this was a particularly busy week with a new exhibit of Jaume Plensa‘s work opening and accompanying events for much of the week. I jumped right in, helping with preparation for the Patron’s Preview and Membership Preview parties. I have also been working on prospect research for a specific campaign, board member demographic research and presentation, and a corporate sponsorship benefits outline for marketing materials and collateral.

I am so excited to be further refining my skills in research and Microsoft Excel, and gaining experience with a new donor data management system. I feel like I am already learning a lot and I cannot wait to see what other projects come my way this summer!

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