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Field Trip Friday: Gardens and Galleries in Nashville

Tonya Prater, Owner

I hope that you’ll consider joining me each Friday as I share the field trips we’ve enjoyed as a family or as an organized group. I’d love to see where you’ve been and what you’re learning!

This week’s field trip was to Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, a beautiful sprawling private estate turned botanical garden and art museum; a union that compliment one another beautifully.

Let’s start with a bit of background information about Cheekwood, home of the Cheek family. They made their fortune and secured their financial futures by investing in a family member’s coffee company which was later sold to a company that would eventually become known as Maxwell House. The proceeds were used to purchase 100 acres of land in West Nashville and construction began in 1929 on what is now the incredible Cheekwood Estate. I also found it interesting that every detail of the house and grounds was at the discretion of the designer and architect, Bryant Fleming of New York. They furnished the home with purchases made in Great Britain. It took four train cars to transport their finds to Cheekwood. It was the largest employer in Nashville during the Depression.

In 1933, Leslie and his wife Mabel, moved into the estate however, sadly Leslie only lived in the home for two years before his death at the age of 61. In 1944, Mabel deeded the home to her daughter, Huldah Cheek Sharp who lived in the home with her husband until 1957 when they gave the property to an art museum and botanical garden.

We began our visit in the Visitor’s center where I picked up a few brochures and determined how to spend our day. Though I originally thought we’d spend an hour or two, it was quickly evident that there was much to discover.

Our first stop was the Japanese Garden. This garden is designed to be viewed from one direction, the viewing pavilion. It is intended for the visitor to sit for awhile in quiet reflection, before moving on.

We also walked past the water garden, on the way to the mansion, though it was a pretty setting, the kids were disappointed that the water wasn’t cascading over the rocks.

Continuing on our way, Joshua was delighted to have spotted a large snake sunning itself on some rocks near the home. I can count on him to pick out all the wildlife, he always does. Thankfully, he had no interest in catching it.

The main home has been transformed into a beautiful art museum. We especially enjoyed the Silver room which showcases 650 pieces that were created during the 18th-20th centuries. My daughter was excited to discover that a one of the pieces, a goblet was designed and commissioned by Thomas Jefferson. Originally at Monticello (which we have been to) it now rests behind glass with the sketches from which it was designed.

Across the hall we enjoyed viewing the Worcester porcelain collection. The third largest of its kind in the United States. Upstairs we found the Faberge collection that is visiting. I know that some people would really enjoy all the glittering jewels, but I’m just not a bling kind of girl. I’m more at home among, my favorite, the Impressionist collection that will be on display until September. To celebrate this exquisite collection, you’ll even find gold frames located outside in the garden where guests can design their own masterpiece by spinning the frame to display a scene that they find particularly attractive. I really wanted my kids to pose for me so I could get a shot of them in the frame, but they just weren’t going for it! Go figure.

I could have stayed in the galleries forever, but the kids were ready to walk along the sculpture trail, where we saw our second snake of the day, I might add! The sculptures all seemed to be pretty contemporary but fun.

This is a beautiful place to take your time, stroll through the gardens and galleries and pack a lunch to eat on the lawn. If you’re in the Nashville area, I highly recommend Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. We enjoyed this so much that we’ll be returning in May as a field trip and I’m really excited because there will be a new Chihuly exhibit! Can’t wait! I’d love to share more photos so if you get a chance, you can hop on over to the FaceBook Fan Page and take a peek.

Thanks for joining along on our trip this week! Now you can link up and share your own and please don’t forget to tell others that you are a part of Field Trip Friday so they can get in on the fun!

For those of you who have participated, don’t forget to snag this awesome button that Adori Graphics created just for you. Isn’t it cute? Just don’t forget to link it back here so Field Trip Friday can continue to grow! Until next week…Happy Field Trippin’!


Sunday 18th of April 2010

Your blog is so cool, wish we would have met sooner :) I'd love to travel like you guys are...even though I know it's not all roses and sunshine LOL


Sunday 18th of April 2010

You might not need to clarify. I found you via my homeschooling research, and might have just assumed...

Tonya @ Live the Adventure

Sunday 18th of April 2010

Annie, Of course you can participate! This isn't just for homeschooling families- I guess maybe I should clarify that next week! Can't wait to read about your trip. We loved St. Augustine!:)


Sunday 18th of April 2010

I added a link to the post I wrote earlier tonight, but it wasn't written with your series in mind. Plus, we're not technically homeschooling yet! I still think it counts, though! Hope you enjoy it.

Tonya @ Live the Adventure

Saturday 17th of April 2010

LOL about the snakes! We actually spotted them on the rocks and along the trail so I think you'd be okay on the lawn!:) Protection Status
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