The Hall of Fame recognizes notable persons of Nordic descent who have achieved greatness in their fields of endeavor. Established in 1984, this honor and its Awards Banquet is a hallmark event of the Norsk Høstfest held in Minot, North Dakota. Previous honorees include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale, Seattle fishing captain Sig Hansen (“Deadliest Catch”), Nordic Ware founders Dorothy and David Dahlquist, and more at hostfest.com/heritage/scandinavian-american-hall-of-fame/
“I’m honored to receive this award and to support the work of the National Nordic Museum in preserving and promoting Nordic culture,” said Nelson. “This award also celebrates the close ties between the United States and Scandinavia, as does the Museum.”
Eric Nelson joined the National Nordic Museum as Executive Director/CEO in January 2008, where he has overseen the expansion of the Museum into a nationally and internationally recognized center for sharing Nordic culture, values, and innovation. He has been honored with the rarely awarded Hazelius Medal in Gold, the only non-Swedish citizen to receive the recognition, as well as having been named the Knight of the Order of the White Rose of Finland by the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö and awarded Knight 1st Class of the Royal Order of the Polar Star by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.
Under Nelson's leadership, the Museum earned international recognition. Nelson led the successful $53 million campaign to build the award-winning iconic building that now houses the Museum’s 80,000-object collection. The Museum received an outpouring of public acclaim upon the opening of its new building in May 2018; the following year the Museum earned national designation by an Act of Congress becoming the National Nordic Museum.
In addition to collecting objects of cultural and historical significance and presenting internationally significant exhibitions, the National Nordic Museum serves as a convener on critical issues including innovation in the Nordic region and United States, economic development, environmental policy, cultural identity, and societal issues. The Museum presents more than 140 programs annually including contemporary art exhibitions, concerts, lectures, films, and educational events.
Nelson is a graduate of the prestigious Getty Museum Leadership Institute and holds a Master of Art degree in History. He has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Washington, California State University, and Sacramento and San Francisco State University. A native of Napa, California, Nelson previously served as Executive Director of the Napa Valley Museum from 1999 to 2007. Prior to this role, he was Curator of Exhibits and Collections and then Executive Director of the Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa for eleven years.