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$12 million gift from Louis “Buzz” Sands IV will help museum expand
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$12 million gift from Louis “Buzz” Sands IV will help museum expand

There are groundbreakings and there is “ground-breaking.”

A $12 million donation from Louis “Buzz” Sands IV certainly can be called ground-breaking.

The Valley car dealer/entrepreneur’s gift will allow Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West to build not one but two new galleries.

The Old Town museum recently celebrated a ceremonial groundbreaking for the expansion, with Sands joined by Scottsdale City Council members Solange Whitehead, Betty Janik and Kathy Littlefield, Mayor David Ortega and Assistant City Manager Brent Stockwell.

Todd Bankofier, CEO and executive director of Western Spirit, presented Sands with a “golden shovel,” and Jim Bruner, founding director of the museum and former council member, praised Sands’ generosity, which will help Western Spirit reach the dreams Bruner and others had for it decades ago.

Bankofier said Sand’s donation launches “a pivotal moment in the history of Western Spirit.

“The expansion represents a significant leap forward in our ongoing mission to safeguard and celebrate the incredible legacy of the American West.”

He praised Sands and “the unwavering support of the Scottsdale City Council.”

Council unanimously approved the expansion in September.

Western Spirit is coming off a jaw-dropping 2023, when Sands’ donation was “doubled down” by the donation of the Eddie Basha Collection of American Indian and Western American fine art, a staggering collection put together over four decades by the late Bashas’ leader.

Bruner said the museum is “so grateful to Buzz Sands for his significant gift. This will fund a major addition to the museum, adding space for the Eddie Basha Western Art collection now moving to our museum.”

As Western Spirit enters its ninth year, Bruner reflected on the early 2000s, when “we had no money. We had no art. We had no location. We just had an idea and a dream that we should somehow make a Western museum a reality in Scottsdale.”

The expansion will be done by the designer-contractor duo of StudioMa and CORE will include two floors and two new galleries.

Core and Studio Ma previously teamed up for construction of the award-winning LEED-certified building at a cost to the city of $13.6 million.

Bankofier promised the new galleries will help Wester Spirit in “taking a giant step towards ensuring that our institution remains a cherished destination for cultural enrichment, education and inspiration.”

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