Longtime Phoenix Art Museum director James Ballinger has announced plans to retire, according to a museum press release issued Thursday, April 17.
He has requested that the museum's board of trustees begin searching for his replacement. Once that replacement has been selected, Ballinger will retire.
In the release, Ballinger says he hopes to "ensure that the succession-planning process will be deliberate and seamless until the proper person is found, and that a smooth transition follows."
He started at PAM in 1974 as the curator of collections and was named director in 1992; 2014 marks his 40th anniversary at Phoenix Art Museum.
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"When I looked at the numbers, they simply added up: I will turn 65 this year and I'll celebrate 40 years with the museum and 33 years as Director. Looking at the Museum's next decade, it's the right time to turn over the reins," he says in the release. "We have a great exhibition schedule set through 2016 and a quality staff to carry us forward. I am a bit of an oddity in that I have stayed so long in one place."
In the same release, PAM board of trustees chairman Jim Patterson says, "Jim Ballinger is a visionary and nationally respected arts advocate who has guided the Phoenix Art Museum's physical growth and extensive reach as part of his overall passion to grow and expand the arts in Arizona. His legacy will be as a savvy businessman, a great communicator and a renowned art expert who did--and will continue to do--his job with grace and enthusiasm. Ballinger very much is the Phoenix Art Museum."
Patterson says the museum's succession planning committee will retain a national search firm to oversee an international process.