Sylvia L. Yount. Photo David Stover for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Sylvia Yount, chief curator and head of the American art department at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, will become curator in charge of the American art wing of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art this fall. She replaces Morrison Heckscher, who will retire this month after 13 years in that position and nearly five decades at the museum.

Prior to her seven-year tenure in Richmond, Yount, 51, was curator of American art and head of the department at Atlanta's High Museum of Art (2001-07). Before that, she served at Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as curator of collections (1993-99) and chief curator (1999-2001). She has organized exhibitions on subjects including American modernism, Maxfield Parrish and Cecilia Beaux.

Heckscher started off at the museum in 1966 as a fellow in the department of prints, later serving in various curatorial posts in the American art and decorative arts departments. He has been chairman of the American art department since 2001. In that position, he oversaw the widely celebrated expansion, redesign and reinstallation of the American art wing, unveiled in 2012. He has focused on the department's architecture and decorative arts, organizing exhibitions on architect Richard Morris Hunt, the architecture of the Met museum, and Central Park, in which the museum is sited.