News Releases


Significant Donation to Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West Fuels Future Expansion

$12 million charitable gift made by Louis “Buzz” Sands IV

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., December 13, 2023 – Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West announced today it will soon break ground to add nearly 12,000 square feet to the unique attraction most recently named the #1 Western museum in the country.

The Scottsdale City Council unanimously approved the expansion of Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West in September 2023. The generous donation of $12 million from Louis "Buzz" Sands IV, a respected entrepreneur and owner of several car dealerships across the Valley, is a testament to the museum's enduring impact.

Since its inauguration in January 2015, Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West, a Smithsonian Affiliate, has played an important role in preserving the rich history and cultural heritage of the American West, ensuring that the artistic treasures and illuminating stories of the region continue to inspire current and future generations.

"This is a pivotal moment in the history of Western Spirit," said Todd Bankofier, CEO and Executive Director 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. With the unwavering support of the Scottsdale City Council and the amazing contribution from Louis 'Buzz' Sands IV, we are taking a giant step towards ensuring that our institution remains a cherished destination for cultural enrichment, education, and inspiration."

The proposed 11,360-square-foot extension of the museum will include the construction of two entirely new galleries, to be named the Louis Sands IV Center. These galleries are set to house a diverse collection of artworks, artifacts, and stories that further illuminate the American West's captivating past and its profound influence on our shared future.

The expansion project will be undertaken by the renowned architectural firm Studio Ma, known globally for its innovative and sustainable designs. Collaborating with them is Core, a respected builder with a track record of delivering high-quality construction projects nationwide. Construction for the new addition will begin in January 2024, with completion scheduled within two years of the project's groundbreaking.

As Western Spirit continues to honor its commitment to preserving the cultural legacy of the American West, the expansion project is set to bring new energy, vibrancy, and opportunity to the heart of Scottsdale. This significant development will cement the museum's place as a cornerstone of community culture, heritage, and education.

Western Spirit features regularly changing and permanent exhibits of Western and Native American art and artifacts, entertaining events, and informative programs that bring the West’s heritage, culture, and community to life. Other current special exhibitions are Werner Segarra: Vaqueros de la Cruz del Diablo, through February 25, 2024; William Matthews: Decades, through April 28, 2024; the Elliott Southwest Women Art collection preview, through Fall 2023; and “Dazzling Array: The Richard A. Gates Collection of Native American Jewelry,” currently on display.

Permanent exhibitions continuously on display include Canvas of Clay: Hopi Pottery Masterworks from The Allan and Judith Cooke Collection, featuring 65 of the finest examples of Hopi pottery spanning six centuries; the Frankie and Howard Alper Collection of John Coleman Bronzes; and The Abe Hays Family Spirit of the West Collection, a showcase of more than 1,400 saddles, spurs, cowboy gear and other Old West objects.

For more information on Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, visit

About Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Western Spirit is located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale. Within months of opening in January 2015, Western Spirit qualified as a Smithsonian Affiliate. The museum has also received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, enjoys a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on both TripAdvisor and Yelp, and is continually recognized as one of the “Nation’s Best Western Museums” by True West magazine). Also, named to Phoenix Magazine’s 2022 Best of The Valley Readers' Choice: “Best Museum You Probably Don’t Know About”, Arizona Foothill’s Best of Our Valley: “Best Museum” & “Best Annual Charity Event: Saddle Up” and the winner of Your Valley’s “East Valley Favorites” for the museum category.  For more information, visit

Social Media: Twitter @SMoWest, Instagram @smowest, Facebook @scottsdalemuseumwest.

Media Contact:

Alison Rose