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FAU Gifted A Sports Museum

Greetings Owl Nation!

I have some baseball news - but not what you think.

Back on February 20th, 2018 the FAU BOT had a meeting which included the presentation and approval of five new University Elements.

The first four elements are donations towards the proposed ADHUS/FAU High School Complex. We haven't really discussed it here on the blog but essentially the AD Henderson University School (ADHUS)/FAU High School Complex on the east side of campus is launching a "Let's Build This Together" campaign which is drawing in donations to replace and improve their campus in phases. The first four elements total $1.4M:

  1. Bernard and Sylvie Godin Element: $250,000
  2. Nicholas DeSiato and Kimberly Rosemurgy Element: $100,000
  3. Huizenga Family Element: $1,000,000
  4. Ernest and Donna McMullen Element: $50,000

These are all great gifts and we hope to continue getting these kinds of gifts in the future.

However, it's the fifth element on this list that may be of most interest to FAU sports fans on The Owl's Nest.

If you've been following these blogs you may remember this entry ("More on The Schmidt") where I described that one of the components of the forthcoming Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence next to  the stadium was the idea for a Sports Museum as part of Phase 2. It was envisioned as a 2600 sq ft facility with space to accommodate social functions for 25-30 people.

That idea is going to become a reality thanks to Avron Fogelman, a businessman from Memphis who was a part owner of the Kansas City Royals back in the 80's/early 90's. Although he did not graduate from FAU, this 2015 Memphis Magazine article explains that he lives in Boca Raton for 8 months out of the year and during that time takes courses here  - presumably as part of the Lifelong Learning Institute.

As described by Danita Nias, the VP for Advancement and CEO of the FAU Foundation, the new "Avron B. Fogelman Sports Museum" will house Fogelman's entire sports collection which is presently valued at over $6.5M. Furthermore, he has pledged $1.5M to design and build out the museum with an annual gift in perpetuity to support and maintain the museum. That brings the total gift to over $8M, inspiring Nias to say that, "This is something we're very excited about.  It's going to become a destination for FAU graduates, the community and people around the country to see the largest baseball collection that exists in the world today. It will serve as a historical teaching component for our faculty and for the students in the Sports MBA program."

Three points about this:

1) Although it's on FAU's campus this is obviously not a museum of FAU memorabilia. However, hopefully FAU memorabilia can be added over time. It would be great to eventually see our own baseball accomplishments, Alfred Morris Pro Bowl stuff, a section on FAU Olympians (Brittany Bowe, anyone? :), etc

2) This is not the same collection as the Sports Immortals Museum on Federal Highway in Boca Raton. That collection is owned by Joel Platt. According to this 2017 Bloomberg article, Platt's extensive collection valued at ~$250M recently went up for auction and the building itself was up on LoopNet for sale last year. It looks like the museum is still running, however.

3) Before, this Fogelman museum was listed as part of Phase II of the Schmidt Complex but if this donation can be made soon you would think it could be part of Phase I of the complex; the stadium portion which is partly under construction with green fences up now around the west side of the stadium. Per the most recent (March 7th) Major Projects report, the rest of the complex is still in the Design stage supposedly due to ongoing fundraising.

Sorry no renderings or anything pretty to look at right now - too early for that. Still, thought you'd want to know. As a fan of museums of myself, I'm always impressed by this kind of thing and believe that universities are ideal places for museums which are, at heart, educational experiences.

FAU actually had the Hibel Museum of Art on its Jupiter campus, although according to this Sun Sentinel article there's a complicated legal mess going on there right now whereby the university has evicted the foundation and plans to sell the art.

We did consider other museum options in the past, however.

From what I remember, years ago then-President Frank Brogan was offered a potential museum of miniatures by donor Barry Kaye, as his wife was a collector. If you were at FAU in the early 2000s you may remember "the FAU castle" (I believe it was a replica of the world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany) that was on display by the entrance to the Boca Student Union - that was from the Kayes. The FAU/Kaye museum never came to pass here, which would have been a second (?) home for The Carole & Barry Kaye Museum of Miniatures after the couple closed the doors on that facility in Los Angeles back in January 2001.

The FAU Libraries has an extensive jazz collection in part due to an impressive 2006 donation of over 21,000 recorded works, though that would be difficult to turn into a formal jazz museum. I think FAU was offered an opportunity to own an art museum in Fort Lauderdale and declined; Nova Southeastern University in Davie felt differently and that museum is now the NSU Art Museum of Fort Lauderdale. And there are probably more stories like this, I just don't know them all. Maybe we have a "museum" of fossils or something tucked away on campus and you wouldn't know unless you're walking down that particular hallway and see the sign on the door.

Now, as we expand the university and get ambitious about our academic profile there's always the possibility that someone could donate to create an art or science museum on campus. It'd be cool to have a Medical Museum to piggyback off the medical school, or maybe a Marine Science museum tying together our ocean engineering, marine biology and coastal geology/paleontology side of things. People in Boca Raton tend to have expendable income and collect art, and even though there's a (small) Boca Raton Museum of Art in Mizner Park, more art is always created and there might be an opportunity to store that here on campus. Just throwing out ideas.

For now, we'll pull them in with sports memorabilia. Start with baseball. Who knows where we'll go tomorrow.

As always,