The Jewish Museum of Maryland recently announced that Bryan Solomon “Sol” Davis will become the fourth executive director in its history. The announcement came after a 10-month nationwide search conducted by the JMM’s board of trustees.
Davis, who is currently the director of the Jewish History Museum and Holocaust History Center in Tucson, Ariz., will succeed Marvin Pinkert, as of Jan. 1.
Located at 15 Lloyd St. in East Baltimore’s Jonestown community, the JMM is an agency of The Associated; Jewish Federation of Baltimore.
Pinkert — who came to the JMM in June of 2012 and plans to retire — said he first met Davis at a national museum convention several years ago.
“I was immediately quite impressed,” he said. “He comes to Baltimore with a strong reputation for his commitment to social justice and community engagement. He seems an excellent fit with the JMM’s new direction and our decision to move beyond simply evoking memories but rather using those memories to inspire action.”
Said Nancy Kutler, president of the JMM’s board of trustees: “We are very excited about Sol bringing his leadership, creativity and relationship-building skills to the JMM as we strive to grow the organization and engage greater audiences. We know he will build upon the accomplishments of Marvin Pinkert, who during his tenure raised the national profile of the museum and increased its presence in the Baltimore community.”
Kutler said Davis was selected because of his emphasis on viewing museums as living and breathing vehicles for societal change.
Said Davis: “I’m honored to be selected for this position and excited by the possibilities as a way to bring people together. My overall museum vision is activating historic spaces, which hold so much power and possibility. … I believe in participatory programs. I view visitors not as audiences but part of the museum community.
“I like to think less about how many attended programs and more about the qualitative experience, how meaningful programs are,” he said. “Museums can bring people together. “
Since 2015, Davis served at the helm of the Jewish History Museum and Holocaust History Center in Tucson. He previously served as director of the Jewish Community Relations Council and as the director of Holocaust education and youth education coordinator at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.
“Here [in Tucson], I was deeply involved with migrant justice, and in Baltimore, I want to be part of the movement for racial justice,” Davis said. “Museums are a bridge between academia and community. Museums have a critical role as a place to hold difficult conversations.”
Davis has a doctorate in language, reading and culture from the University of Arizona. He has been a lecturer at the University of Arizona since 2011.
Davis and his family are currently in the process of relocating to Baltimore and look forward to being part of the community here. “The history of Jews in Baltimore is longer and deeper than in Tucson,” he said. “The Jewish community here [in Tuscon] is so vibrant. But I also know that Tucson is not Baltimore. So initially, there’s a lot of learning I have to do.”