The Cheekwood Campaign

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Board and Staff of Cheekwood, it is with great excitement and profound gratitude that I share the current status of The Cheekwood Campaign as Cheekwood ushers in a new era.

With lead gifts from The Bracken Foundation, The Ann and Monroe Carell Foundation, and the Frist Foundation, and more than 300 additional donors, more than $29 million has been committed towards our $30 million goal for The Cheekwood Campaign.

Coinciding with this effort, the Campaign greatly elevated Cheekwood’s offerings with the creation of a Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden, enhanced Ann & Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail and Blevins Japanese Garden, and restoration and enhancements to the Frist Learning Center.

Jane MacLeod
Cheekwood President and CEO

The Cheekwood Campaign

The Cheekwood Campaign

The Cheekwood Campaign, an unprecedented effort that began quietly in 2015, is Cheekwood’s first major fundraising campaign in over 20 years. At its core, The Cheekwood Campaign has three key objectives to better position the institution to fulfill its mission to preserve Cheekwood as a national landmark where excellence in art and horticulture stimulate the mind and nurture the spirit. These include:

– Building endowment, which Cheekwood has lacked since its inception as a public institution in 1960 when it was gifted without an endowment. In 2015, Cheekwood’s endowment was only $4.8M, with earnings that accounted for just 3% of the organization’s annual revenue, compared to 19% at like-sized gardens across the nation

– Addressing significant deferred restoration and creating a capital fund to ensure maintenance and needed repairs are not deferred in the future

– Initiating the first phase of Cheekwood’s recently completed Master Site Plan, notably the addition of the Children’s Garden and enhancements to the Ann & Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail, Frist Learning Center, and Blevins Japanese Garden, projects that were projected to have the greatest financial and mission-related return for the organization

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The Bracken Foundation Children's Garden - COMPLETE

Children's Garden at Cheekwood

The Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden is a unique and compelling outdoor retreat and destination for the Nashville community. Designed with children of all ages in mind, the Children’s Garden is an interactive and educational outdoor experience that celebrates Cheekwood’s legacy and identity through play and discovery.

– A cornerstone of The Cheekwood Campaign, the Children’s Garden was made possible by a $4 million lead gift by The Bracken Foundation and a structured $2 million pledge challenge

– The Garden has served as an immediate new revenue source for the institution through increased admissions and memberships

– 3. Fromme Design and Nashville-based architecture firm Hodgson Douglas oversaw the project

– The design of the Garden was inspired from key characteristics of Cheekwood’s heritage, aesthetics and collections, including: Georgian revival architectural grandeur and beauty echoing the American Country Place Era estate

– Human-scaled places, like private garden rooms, secret nooks, hidden spaces and water features

– Horticultural artistry and a rich plant palette celebrating the four seasons

– Elements and features exhibiting artisan craftsmanship, including masonry, ironwork, sculpture and plantings

– The Garden provides learning opportunities based on two themes: Plants are alive with their own distinct life cycles and patterns changing through the seasons

– Humans encounter and engage with environments through their five senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch), minds and imaginations

– Location at Cheekwood: Between the Howe Garden and the Frist Learning Center

– Size of Garden: 2 acres

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Ann & Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail Enhancements - COMPLETE

Sculpture Trail at Cheekwood

Established in 1999 through the generosity of Ann and Monroe Carell Jr., the Ann & Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail covers 10 acres of woodland and stretches approximately one mile. It is currently home to 15 iconic sculptures by internationally recognized contemporary artists, including James Turrell, George Rickey and Sophie Ryder.

A $5 million lead gift from The Ann and Monroe Carell Foundation (Kathryn and David Brown, Edie and David Johnson, Julie Carell Stadler) supports the endowment and enhancement of the sculpture trail.

Sculpture trail enhancements included:

– ADA-accessibility and installation of lighting through a section of the trail, allowing for evening accessibility and offering a new way to experience the trail

– New wayfinding and trailhead entrance, clearly indicating access to and around the trail

– Enhanced horticultural experiences creating seasonality within the space, diversifying the landscape types and complementing the sculptures

– “Daylighting” part of the trail to create a meadow, diversifying the spatial experience

– Conservation and repairs of existing sculptures in need

– Established infrastructure and support for showcasing temporary or long-term installations on the trail, either alone or as part of larger exhibitions

– Designer: The design process was led by Nashville-based Hawkins Partners, Inc. Gary Hawkins will be the principal-in-charge

The Frist Learning Center Enhancements - COMPLETE

cheekwood campaign garden

– The Frist Learning Center is Cheekwood’s hub of education, exploration, and discovery, and hosts year-round educational and public programming, including hands-on art activities and demonstrations, classes and camps, teacher trainings and workshops, exhibitions, and artist-in-residence programs

– The Frist Learning Center originally housed the estate’s horse stables and garages, and in the late 1990s, was expanded to accommodate an education center and gallery spaces made possible by a lead gift from the HCA Foundation and Frist family

– The $4 million gift from The Frist Foundation enabled Cheekwood to restore and enhance the Frist Learning Center to include a new café that serves as a long-term satellite food service option adjacent to the Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden, as well as reimagined meeting and interpretation gallery spaces

The Blevins Japanese Garden Enhancements - COMPLETE

Shōmu-en, the Pine-Mist garden, is a place of quiet and meditation, a refuge from the outside world. The lantern at the gate is a symbol of enlightenment, and the gate always stands open as a sign of welcome. The garden is in four parts. The roji, or crooked path, slows your progress and invites observation. Then you pass another gate into the dark bamboo forest, intended to turn the mind inward. A third gate takes you into a grassy courtyard with gingkos, maples, and a carved basin where water falls from a bamboo pipe into a rock basin. Ascending the wide steps and entering the pavilion, a great body of water, symbolized by raked gravel, comes into view. It contains granite islands and is surrounded by stunted pines seen on a distant shore. A stream comes down the mountainside and graceful maples complete the peaceful scene. Rest here and let your mind travel through this island of tranquility.

Blevins Japanese Garden enhancements include:

– Enhanced horticulture

– New wayfinding and secondary entrance

– New gates, gazebo and viewing benches

– Restoration and repairs of existing structures

– Conservation and repairs of existing sculptures in need

– Endowment for long-term care and maintenance

– Cheekwood will also continue to raise funds for the garden’s long-term care and maintenance

– Designer: New enhancements designed by Sada Uchiyama, renowned Japanese garden designer

– Made possible by Melba and Bill Blevins

Ways to Support

Cheekwood’s aspirations to reach its full potential are being realized because of the philanthropic support of the very generous Nashville community. If you are interested in learning more about and getting involved through The Cheekwood Campaign, please contact us at

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