AAHC Forum: How a South Carolina State University Accounting Major Found a Passion for Museum Work

This post is a part of the AAHC Forum. In the coming months we will invite current and past grantees to contribute their project experiences via blog posts on our UpNext Blog and then ask you to respond through the AAHC Virtual Forum. We hope you will add your voice and share your needs and opinions so that AAHC can continue to help African American museums thrive. Please visit the AAHC forum to continue the conversation.

By Davion Petty
Intern, I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium

My experiences as an intern at the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium have been truly amazing. Among the most memorable of these experiences was getting to work on the exhibition of one of the greatest collections of African art in this country.

When Simone Gregori was head of the Texaco Company in Nigeria, he and his wife, Linda, put together a wonderful collection of African art. Two of the artifacts from the collection are from the Nok culture in Nigeria and are 2000 years old. (It’s one thing to see a picture or learn about different cultures and artifacts, but the actual hands-on experience gives you an entirely different perspective.) When Mr. Gregori retired, this Italian couple moved to the U.S. and later decided to donate their collection to a museum. They wanted to build a legacy and keep their collection intact, and they began to research their options. I got to be part of the group that traveled to their home in Florida to discuss the possibility of having the collection donated to the Stanback. Mr. and Mrs. Gregori are the two most fabulous people that I have ever met. After a discussion over a delicious lunch prepared by Mrs. Gregori, they decided that the Stanback was the right place to preserve their entire collection.

Securing a collection of African Art for the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium

Davion and the Gregori family securing a collection of African Art for the I.P Stanback Museum and Planetarium

My internship provided me with experiences that you simply can’t get in the classroom. Being a senior accounting major, at first I wondered how I would fit in. But with the assistance of the director of the museum, Ellen Zisholtz, I learned about various career paths in the museum industry. I now believe that I can find a job that will allow me to blend my accounting knowledge with my love of art. Actually, my internship experience helped me to feel more confident about my choice of a major, because I now know that there are opportunities that can combine my creativity with my financial management skills.

This internship experience has improved my business acumen and networking skills and has provided me with experience working with a team. When I graduate in May, I hope to find a position that gives me the opportunity to use my skills and passion.

A native of Gaffney, South Carolina, Davion Petty, will soon obtain a B.A. in accounting from South Carolina State University. While there, Davion has had the opportunity to study abroad in China and Brazil. He has worked as an intern at the I.P. Stanback for the last 3 years. Davion is interested in becoming a Certified Public Accountant and a real estate developer. He hopes to use his creativity to combine these interests with his love of the arts and museums.

The I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium is an embodiment of South Carolina State University’s commitment to serving and engaging diverse communities, enhancing the appreciation of the Arts, Sciences and Humanities, including Civil Rights, with education as the center of all activities. Encouraging the development of critical thinking and creative skills, the Stanback’s programs include collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and presenting work from a broad range of cultures for its varied constituents: local, regional, national, and global. The Stanback is of significant national importance as the only facility of its kind, an interdisciplinary Museum and Planetarium, at any Historically Black College and University and one of the few in the country.

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