Avron B. Fogelman Sports History Museum Opens at FAU

Avron B. Fogelman Sports History Museum

Avron B. Fogelman Sports History Museum (Photo by Alex Dolce)

By lisa metcalf | 2/20/2020

The Avron B. Fogelman Sports History Museum, a permanent exhibit featuring artifacts from the former Kansas City Royals owner and longtime Boca Raton resident’s private collection, recently opened in the Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence. Part of a donation valued at more than $10 million, the collection is widely considered one of the largest private libraries amassed and owned by an individual. 

The new 3,500-square-foot space showcases the museum’s more than 1,200 pieces in exhibits that offer visitors an intimate and visual progression of American sports alongside vignettes of the country’s growth. The museum provides historical context, opportunities for intergenerational connections and unique storytelling. It is free to visit and open to the public.

A display of Olympic torches, including ones from the 1936 Berlin, 1948 London and 1972 Munich games, marks significant moments that impacted the games, its athletes and the world. In another display, World War II is illustrated using game-worn pants from baseball player and spy Moe Berg. It hangs alongside items signed by crew members of the Enola Gay, the aircraft responsible for dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. 

“Sports are so engrained in our identity that a great deal of our collective history could be shared through famous athletic moments,” said Fogelman. “To serve as stewards of that story, we have to share our knowledge with the next generation and keep the passion for sports alive.”

The museum also includes golf memorabilia from legends such as Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods; a 1930s-era football signed by Jim Thorpe and helmet autographed by Bronco Nagurski; and an array of pieces from Muhammad Ali. Another section showcases racial integration through artifacts from Jackie Robinson, the first African American Major League Baseball player; Emmett Ashford, the first African American Major League Baseball umpire; the scouting report for Hall of Fame player Willie Mays; and equipment from the Negro Leagues.

Other highlights on display include:

  • The 13 original rules of basketball by James Naismith
  • A signed Kobe Bryant rookie jersey, along with his shoes
  • Football signed by the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins
  • The 1969 Ryder Cup Trophy
  • One-of-a-kind personal pieces dedicated to Fogelman by sports legends, entertainers, politicians and historical figures
  • Interactive displays including a recording of Fogelman’s phone call with U.S. President Ronald Reagan after the Royals won the 1985 World Series

FAU President John Kelly said the museum serves the university’s academic programs such as the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters Museum Management program, the MBA Sports Management program and other related programs across the university, with space allocated for lectures and post-tour discussions. 

“History comes alive when we use the shared language of sports,” Kelly said. “Avron’s passion coupled with our commitment to providing South Florida with interactive academic opportunities has created a unique museum. We are honored to be entrusted with his life’s work – this collection – and look forward to sharing America’s history with all who walk through its doors.” 

The total gift, which included funds for construction and the hiring and training of museum staff, is the fifth largest one-time donation in the university’s history. Fogelman also is a contributor to FAU in support of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Athletics, the Kelly Family Scholarship Fund and the Kelly/Strul Emerging Scholars Program. 

For more information, visit www.fau.edu/artsandletters/fogelman-sports-museum/.