Baseball’s Bud Selig Gifts $2.5 Million to Phoenix Art Museum

Bud and Suzanne Selig have donated $2.5 million to the Phoenix Art Museum to endow a new chief curator position. Photo: Getty Images.

Former longtime Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and his wife Suzanne have donated $2.5 million to the Phoenix Art Museum.

The gift will be used to create a chief curatorial position for the museum, which has been without one since 2002. Former executive director James K. Ballinger, who retired at the end of January after 40 years with the museum (see Weekly Shuffle: Sotheby’s Exec Joins Pompidou, Phoenix Art Museum Director of 33 Years Leaving, and More), 33 of which were spent at the helm, had been serving double duty ever since.

Coincidentally, Selig’s term as baseball commissioner ended also ended in January. He had officially held the post since 1998, and on an acting basis since 1992. The Seligs own a home in the Phoenix metro area, and Suzanne is a member of the museum’s board of trustees. The couple had previously been involved with the Milwaukee Art Museum during Selig’s time as owner of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Suzanne told the Phoenix Business Journal that the Phoenix Art Museum “holds a special place in our hearts and we hope our contribution allows it to develop into a museum that is recognized both nationally and internationally.”

Ballinger’s successor, Amada Cruz, who comes to Phoenix from San Antonio Artpace, started at the museum the first of February (see Weekly Shuffle: New Curators at the Metropolitan and the Guggenheim and More). She will count filling the curator post among her first tasks. The endowed position will be officially titled the Selig Family Chief Curator, and will develop temporary exhibitions and the institution’s permanent collection as the “chief artistic officer,” Cruz told AZ Central.

Cruz’s goals both as director and for the future curator are to “attract younger audiences,” and to engage the local Hispanic population. “It’s a 40 percent Hispanic city, so it’s an opportunity for us to open up to those communities.”

With the Selig’s gift, the Phoenix Art Museum’s endowment grows to $23.5 million.

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