Kate Eilertsen, executive director of the Sonoma Museum Valley Museum of Art since 2009, has been appointed to the museum’s newly created post of artistic director.

In her new role, Eilertsen will focus primarily on the downtown Sonoma museum’s exhibitions and educational programs.

“This is a dream come true, to really concentrate on developing the artistic programs for this museum,” Eilertsen said in a statement issued Monday.

This past winter, Eilertsen curated the first retrospective exhibit of work by Eleanor Coppola, artist, filmmaker and wife of film director and winery owner Francis Ford Copppla, which closed in January at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.

The museum board plans to recruit a new executive editor to oversee the museum’s budget, marketing and development, said board president Douglas Fenn Wilson in the museum’s announcement of Eilertsen’s new role.

Eilertsen, 60, began her career at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where she oversaw the installation of the Rockefeller collection. She went on to become exhibitions director for all three Harvard University Art Museums.

After moving to California, she founded Teen Inspiration, which provided visual arts and music programs for teen-agers in San Rafael.

Eilertsen gathered extensive experience in the Bay Area, working as associate dean and director for community education at the San Francisco Art Institute, special projects manager for the University of California at Berkeley Museum at Blackhawk, director of the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco and acting director of visual arts at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Since coming to the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Eilertsen has emphasized efforts to make the museum accessible to a broad audience and keep it active in the community.

Located at 551 Broadway, not far from Sonoma Plaza, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art opened in 1998. For more information: 707-939-7862 or svma.org.

You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com.

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