21c Museum Hotels

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Rooftop bar at 21c Cincinnati

21c Museum Hotels is a Louisville-based combination contemporary art museum and boutique hotel chain. As of 2015, it manages four properties in Louisville, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio; Bentonville, Arkansas and Durham, North Carolina.[1] 21c Museum Hotel was voted among the Top 10 Hotels in the World in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards in 2009, 2010 and 2011.[2] It was also voted as the No. 1 Hotel in the South in the 2012 Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards. The Cincinnati 21c hotel was named the top hotel in America in 2013 by Conde Nast Traveler's annual reader survey, and 11th in the world.


21c Museum Hotel was launched in 2006 by philanthropists and art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson. The pair had seen farmland and rural landscapes fall to development while the historic buildings of Louisville's downtown sat vacant. They created 21c in Louisville's downtown arts and theater district to support both urban renewal and regional agriculture, and have developed partnerships with local growers to supply produce and ingredients for the Proof on Main restaurant and bar.

On June 10, 2010, Brown and Wilson announced plans to build a new 21c hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas. This hotel is being developed in partnership with heirs of Walmart founder Sam Walton.[3] The hotel is located on land that was once a corn field outside of the urban center of Bentonville. The estimated cost of the project is $28 million. It opened in 2013 and will bring an estimated 160 new jobs to the area, which are expected to be filled largely by contracted workers. The opening of the hotel is expected to cause Bentonville to lose half of its current hotel base. [4]

21c Museum[edit]

21c Museum is North America's only museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art of the 21st century. The Museum is open free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More than twenty special exhibitions and installations have been organized by the 21c Museum since its opening in 2006.

Recent exhibitions include: "Creating Identity: Portraiture Today;" "All's Fair in Art and War: Envisioning Conflict;" "Tangled Up In You: Connecting, Coexisting, and Conceiving Identity," and "Hybridity: The Evolution of Species and Spaces in 21st-Century Art." 21c Museum has presented projects by Mikhail Baryshnikov and John Waters, as well as traveling exhibitions including Marc Swanson: Beginning to See the Light, organized by the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, and Constant World: the Work of Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, organized by Beall Center for Art and Technology, University of California, Irvine.


The 21c Museum features permanent installations and special exhibitions of works by artists, including Bill Viola, Tony Oursler, Andres Serrano, Sam Taylor-Wood, David Levinthal, Yinka Shonibare, Judy Fox, Chuck Close, Alfredo Jaar, David Herbert, Daan Roosegaarde, Kara Walker and Serkan Özkaya (David).

The Museum also displays a number of original site-specific commissions, including:

  • Untitled (2006) by Werner Reiterer, the artist's first permanent public sculpture in the U.S.
  • In the Absence of Voyeurism 6 & 7 (2000–2006) by artist and surgeon Sean Bidic
  • Cloud Rings (2006) by MacArthur Fellow Ned Kahn
  • Red Penguin (2005) by Cracking Art Group
  • Arilated: The 21c Pip Mobile (2005–2007) by Monica Mahoney
  • Text Rain (1999) by Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv
  • Sculptures from the Satyrs Daughters 1999 series and Figure 2004 series by Judy Fox
  • "Flow 5.0" (2013) by Daan Roosegaarde


The front facade of the 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati.

The Louisville location renovated five 19th century tobacco and bourbon warehouse buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places to house the museum, hotel, and its restaurant. It is located within the city's arts and theater district along "Museum Row," which is home to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, the Muhammad Ali Center, the Frazier History Museum, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, and the Kentucky Science Center. This location has a restaurant named Proof on Main, which was named one of "Best New Restaurants 2006" by Esquire magazine.[5] The menu features ingredients from local farms and food purveyors, as well as 50 types of bourbon.[6]

The facility was designed by Deborah Berke & Partners Architects, for which they won the American Institute of Architects Kentucky Honor Award in 2011,[7] the AIA NYS Excellence for Historic Preservation/Adaptive Reuse in 2007,[8] and the Best of Year Award for Hospitality Design, Interior Design Magazine, in 2006.[9]

The Cincinnati location involved the complete renovation of the historic Hotel Metropole, a grand building that's most previous use was section 8 apartments for low income residents. $48 million was spent on the renovation.

The third location in Bentonville opened in 2013. The museum hotel is a small walk away from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Another location is under construction in the Hill Building in Durham, North Carolina.[10][11] Additional hotels are planned for the Fayette National Bank (aka First National Bank) building in Lexington, Kentucky;[12] the Fred Jones Assembly Plant in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma,[13] and the Savoy Hotel and Grill in Kansas City, Missouri.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.21cmuseumhotels.com/durham/
  2. ^ "2009 Readers' Choice Awards," Conde Nast Traveler, October 2009. http://www.concierge.com/ideas/luxury/tours/501143?page=5
  3. ^ "21c Museum Hotel Plans Expanding to Arkansas," 89.3 WFPL, June 2010, http://www.wfpl.org/2010/06/08/21c-museum-hotel-plans-expanding-to-arkansas/
  4. ^ "Waltons back 'arts' hotel," Arkansas Times, June 2010, http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2010/06/08/waltons-back-arts-hotel
  5. ^ "Best New Restaurants 2006," Esquire, October 2006. http://www.esquire.com/features/food-drink/ESQ1106BNR_110
  6. ^ "America's 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences," Food & Wine, October 2006. http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/americas-50-most-amazing-wine-experiences
  7. ^ "Honor Awards". AIA KY. 2011. 
  8. ^ "Design Awards Layout". AIA NYS. 2007. 
  9. ^ "Best of Year Awards". Interior Design. 2006. 
  10. ^ Barbara De Lollis, "Durham, N.C., to get artsy, luxury 21c Museum Hotel", USA Today, August 8, 2012.
  11. ^ Amanda Jones Hoyle, "Construction starts on 21c Museum Hotel in Durham", Triangle Business Journal, June 28, 2013.
  12. ^ Janet Patton, "Lexington's 21c hotel delayed to 2015, but 'definitely not dead'", Lexington Herald-Leader, August 31, 2013.
  13. ^ Steve Lackmeyer, "New 21c Museum Hotel will spur redevelopment of other OKC buildings", The Oklahoman, March 21, 2014.
  14. ^ Kevin Collison, "Savoy Hotel deal moving forward", The Kansas City Star, December 2, 2013.
  15. ^ Future Projects 21c Museum Hotels. Retrieved 2014-03-21

External links[edit]