Published: May 11, 2021
DEERFIELD, MASS. – Historic Deerfield has named John Davis, former provost and under secretary for museums, education and research at the Smithsonian Institution, as president and chief executive officer. Davis succeeds Philip Zea, who is retiring from the museum after 18 years in the top post.
“On behalf of the board of trustees, I am delighted to welcome John as the next president and CEO of Historic Deerfield,” Joe Gromacki, chair of Historic Deerfield’s board of trustees, said. “John is someone who demonstrates the ability, aptitude and desire to take Historic Deerfield to a new level of impact and success as we move into the next chapter of Historic Deerfield’s institutional life. He has demonstrated a deep passion for Deerfield as a place, as well as a strong recognition of its importance in the American cultural landscape.”
Davis is currently the interim director of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. Previously, he served as provost and under secretary for museums, education and research at the Smithsonian, from 2017 to 2020. As provost, Davis was responsible for 19 museums, nine research institutes, 22 libraries and archives and the National Zoo. One of his principal roles at the Smithsonian was to drive pan-institutional, interdisciplinary initiatives that leveraged the power of individual museums across the institution. While there, Davis designed and implemented a comprehensive Open Access initiative, a massive undertaking that has made more than three million objects in the Smithsonian collections available in high-resolution digital format to anyone, anywhere in the world, at no cost, for any use. He was also the architect and co-chair of the American Women’s History Initiative, the largest national undertaking to tell the diverse stories of the contributions of women and girls in every area of artistic, cultural, political and professional achievement.
Prior to his time with the Smithsonian, Davis served as executive director, Terra Foundation for American Art Europe (Paris) and executive director of global academic programs. Among his responsibilities was to oversee the Terra summer residency in Giverny and manage the foundation’s historic buildings and landscapes.
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