Toni and Don Scherzer have called Cleveland home for 47 years and have been active members of the Cleveland Museum of Art for 37. The Scherzers recently established a generous endowment at the museum to help fund internships for culturally and socioeconomically underrepresented students. This spring, they sat down with Cleveland Art to share their reflections and experiences on what led to their transformational gift.
Your generous endowment will have an extraordinary impact on the CMA’s internship program for generations to come. Who or what inspired you to make this incredible gift?
I [Toni] have been passionate about art since I was a child growing up in Cincinnati. My great-grandmother and grandmother were artists who introduced me to painting, wood-carved art furniture, sculpture, and museums. Through their enthusiasm and guidance, art became an integral part of my life.
My parents, Nancy and Harry Meiss, spent much of their lives helping youth realize their potential. Don’s mother, Alyce, was a high school guidance counselor who saw many students succeed over the years. These collective experiences motivated us to want to provide young adults the opportunity to begin to pursue careers that could be meaningful to them.
You are actively involved in two of our museum’s affiliate groups, the Print Club and the Womens Council. How has your involvement in these groups enhanced your engagement and experience with the CMA?
Ever since becoming members of the CMA, we have wanted to learn more about the museum. We joined these groups not only because we are passionate about art but also because we enjoy understanding the “behind-the-scenes” work performed at the CMA, such as the conservation process and what it takes to make an exhibition come to life. Being members of these groups has given us the opportunity to take a deep dive into the collection and to get to know many internal departments at the museum.
Why did you choose to support internships at the CMA?
Knowing there was already an internship program in place at the CMA, we realized that the groundwork had been laid for students to gain experience at a world-class institution. Establishing our endowment was a means to enhance this existing internship program by drawing in young adults who may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore a career at a museum. Given that, the Cleveland Museum of Art was a natural place for us to establish this endowment.