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PHOENIX -- The longtime director of the Phoenix Art Museum is retiring after more than 30 years at the helm.

James Ballinger informed museum board members and staff of his decision to retire Thursday.

Ballinger said he will stay on until a successor is found but he will likely remain through December, which would mark his 40th anniversary with the museum.

Ballinger started as a curator in 1974 at the 285,000-square-foot facility and became director in 1982.

A committee will retain a national search firm to help look for a successor.

Museum officials said Ballinger has helped oversee nearly 500 exhibitions and expanded the collection to 10,000 objects.

Associated Press,

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