Eric Nelson joined the National Nordic Museum as Executive Director/CEO in January 2008, where he has overseen the expansion to the Museum into a nationally and internationally recognized center for sharing Nordic culture, values, and innovation. He has been honored with the Gold Hazelius Medal, the only non-Swede to receive this recognition, as well as having been named awarded the Knight of the Order of the White Rose of Finland by the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö and 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 has become the only museum in the United States – and indeed the world – that showcases the impact and influence of Nordic values and innovation in contemporary society, and tells the story of 12,000 years of Nordic history and culture, across all five Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – and the Sámi people of Arctic Europe.
In addition to its collection and exhibitions, the National Nordic Museum serves as a convener on critical issues including innovation, economic development, environmental policy, cultural identity and societal issues. The Museum presents more than 100 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 and B.A. in History from California State University. He has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Washington, California State University, 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.