21c Museum Hotels

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21c Museum Hotels
Founded2006; 17 years ago (2006)
  • Laura Lee Brown
  • Steve Wilson
United States
Number of locations
9 hotels (2 under development)
Area served
United States

21c Museum Hotels is a contemporary art museum and boutique hotel chain based in Louisville, Kentucky. The chain also has locations in Lexington, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Bentonville, Arkansas; Durham, North Carolina; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Kansas City, Missouri; and Nashville, Tennessee.[1] Each of these nine properties comprises a boutique hotel, a contemporary art museum, and a restaurant. It was acquired by the French hotel group Accor in July 2018 for $51 million.

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 #1 Hotel in the South in the 2012 Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards.

21c Museum Hotel, Cincinnati was named the top hotel in America and the 11th in the world in 2013 by Condé Nast Traveler's annual reader survey.[3]


21c was launched in 2006 by philanthropists and art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson. They were inspired to create 21c after seeing farmland and rural landscapes developed while the historic buildings of Louisville's downtown sat vacantly. They created 21c in Louisville's downtown arts and theater district to support urban renewal and regional agriculture, and have developed partnerships with local growers to supply products and ingredients for the Proof on Main restaurant and bar.

Co-founder Craig Greenberg was named the company's president in 2012 and chief executive officer in September 2017.[4] He stepped down from 21c in June 2020.[5]

Following the success of the Louisville location, additional 21c locations were opened, with nine[6] currently in operation and two in the planning or construction stages.

After 21c was acquired by Accor, Brown and Wilson maintained a 15% stake. They continued to be involved with the company.[7]

21c Museum[edit]

21c Museum is North America's only museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art of the 21st century.[8] The museum is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It is free to visit. 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
  • 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.


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, Yyinka Shonibare, Judy Fox, Chuck Close, Alfredo Jaar, David Herbert, Daan Roosegaarde, Anastasia Schipani, Kara Walker, and Serkan Özkaya.

The museum also displays several original site-specific commissions, including:

  • Untitled by Werner Reiterer, the artist's first permanent public sculpture in the United States (2006)
  • In the Absence of Voyeurism 6 & 7 by artist and surgeon Sean Bidic (2000–2006)
  • "Cloud Rings by MacArthur Fellow Ned Kahn (2006)
  • Red Penguin by Cracking Art Group (2005)
  • Arilated: The 21c Pip Mobile by Monica Mahoney (2005–2007)
  • Text Rain by Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv (1999)
  • Sculptures from the Satyrs Daughters, 1999 series and Figure 2004 series by Judy Fox
  • Flow 5.0 by Daan Roosegaarde (2013)
  • Echo by Heather Gordon and Justin Tornow (2017)


Louisville, Kentucky[edit]

In its Louisville location, 21c renovated five 19th-century warehouse buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places to house the museum, hotel, and restaurant. It is located within the city's arts and theater district along "Museum Row", which is home to the Louisville Slugger Museum, 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 called Proof on Main, which was named one of the "Best New Restaurants of 2006" by the Esquire magazine.[9] The menu features ingredients from local farms and food purveyors, as well as 50 types of bourbon.[10] Located outside the establishment stands "The Statue of David", a double-size, golden replica of Michelangelo's David, created by Turkish artist Serkan Özkaya.[11] Originally a project for the Istanbul Biennial art exhibition, the statue collapsed under its weight. Özkaya salvaged and restored the statue and created two more casts, one of which was acquired by 21c Museum Hotels.[12]

Deborah Berke & Partners Architects designed the facility, for which they won the American Institute of Architects Kentucky Honor Award in 2011,[13] the AIA NYS Excellence for Historic Preservation/Adaptive Reuse in 2007,[14] and the Best of Year Award for Hospitality Design, Interior Design Magazine, in 2006.[15] The hotel was also inducted into Historic Hotels of America, the official publication of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[16]

Cincinnati, Ohio[edit]

In its Cincinnati location, 21c undertook the complete renovation of the historic Hotel Metropole, a building previously used for housing low-income residents. It cost $48 million to renovate the hotel.[17]

Bentonville, Arkansas[edit]

The third location opened in Bentonville in 2013. The hotel is located on land that was once a cornfield outside the urban center of Bentonville.[18] The Bentonville location was named one of the top 15 hotels in the US by the Travel + Leisure Magazine in 2017.[19]

Durham, North Carolina[edit]

In March 2015, 21c opened its fourth hotel in Durham, North Carolina.[20] In 2013, the company bought the historic Hill Building for $5.25 million. With an investment of $48 million, the Hill Building was renovated and converted into a hotel with 125 rooms.[21][22] The hotel is centrally located in Downtown Durham and is a short walk from the Durham Bulls Stadium, the DPAC, and the Carolina Theater.

Lexington, Kentucky[edit]

In February 2016, the Lexington hotel opened in the Fayette National Bank Building.[23][24]

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma[edit]

In June 2016, 21c opened a hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in the Fred Jones Assembly Plant. The plant was built in 1915 and was known for being where the Ford Model T was assembled.[25][26]

Nashville, Tennessee[edit]

In May 2017, the Nashville hotel opened in the historic Gray & Dudley building in downtown.[27]

Kansas City, Missouri[edit]

In July 2018, the group opened their 120 suite and gallery hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, inside the historic Savoy Hotel and Grill.[28]

Chicago, Illinois[edit]

In February 2020, 21c opened a hotel in Chicago, Illinois, renovating The James Hotel in Chicago's River North Gallery District[29] with 297 rooms and over 10,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space.

Further developments[edit]

Additional properties are in active development, including a location in Pittsburgh in 2024, & St. Louis, Missouri,[30] which is expected to open in 2023. The future of another planned location in Des Moines, Iowa is unclear now that "The Fifth" project, of which it was due to be a part, has stalled.[31]

The company had been looking to open a hotel in Indianapolis in the old city hall, with construction scheduled to begin in 2017; however, these plans were scrapped at the end of March 2017 due to problems with financing.[32]


Each 21c location has an onsite restaurant, with many receiving recognition and awards, including multiple James Beard Foundation Award finalists for excellence in cuisine.[33]

Each restaurant reflects the local flavor and cuisine of its home city. The current lineup includes:

  • The Hive - Bentonville
  • Metropole - Cincinnati
  • Counting House - Durham
  • Lockbox - Lexington
  • Proof on Main - Louisville
  • Gray & Dudley - Nashville
  • Mary Eddy's - Oklahoma City
  • The Savoy - Kansas City
  • Lure Fishbar - Chicago


  1. ^ 21c Museum Hotels. "21c Museum Hotel Durham - Downtown Durham Luxury Hotel".
  2. ^ "2009 Readers' Choice Awards," Conde Nast Traveler, October 2009. http://www.concierge.com/ideas/luxury/tours/501143?page=5 Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Demeropolis, Tom (2013-04-18). "21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati named to Condé Nast Traveler's Hot List". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2017-09-07.
  4. ^ "21c Museum Hotels founder Steve Wilson stepping down as CEO". Courier-journal. Retrieved November 11, 2022.
  5. ^ Fox, Jena Tesse (June 30, 2020). "21c Museum Hotels names new brand leader". Hotel Management.
  6. ^ "Art Museum, Boutique Hotel & Restaurant". 21c Museum Hotels. Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  7. ^ Mann, David (July 31, 2018). "21c Museum Hotels to be sold to international hotel chain". BizJournals.com. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  8. ^ "Hotel, Art Museum & Restaurant | Kansas City, MO | 21c Museum Hotels". 21c Kansas City. Retrieved 2022-12-13.
  9. ^ Mariani, John (October 31, 2006). "Best New Restaurants 2006". Esquire.
  10. ^ "America's 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences". Food & Wine. October 2006.
  11. ^ "David (inspired by Michelangelo)". 21c Museum Hotel. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Golden Statue of David". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  13. ^ "Honor Awards". AIA KY. 2011.
  14. ^ "Design Awards Layout". AIA NYS. 2007. Archived from the original on 2012-02-25.
  15. ^ "Best of Year Awards". Interior Design. 2006. Archived from the original on 2012-03-25.
  16. ^ "Hotel History - 21c Museum Hotel Louisville by MGallery". Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved 2022-12-14.
  17. ^ Jernigan, Meg. "History of the Metropole Hotel in Cincinnati". USA Today. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  18. ^ Brantley, Max (2010-06-08). "Waltons back 'arts' hotel". Arkansas Times.
  19. ^ "Bentonville's 21c Museum Hotel Ranks Among Top In Nation". Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS. 2017-07-29. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
  20. ^ 21c Museum Hotel opens, The News & Observer, March 17, 2015
  21. ^ Barbara De Lollis, "Durham, N.C., to get artsy, luxury 21c Museum Hotel", USA Today, August 8, 2012.
  22. ^ Amanda Jones Hoyle, "Construction starts on 21c Museum Hotel in Durham", Triangle Business Journal, June 28, 2013.
  23. ^ 21c opens fifth property, 21c Blog, February 2, 2016
  24. ^ Janet Patton, "Lexington's 21c hotel delayed to 2015, but 'definitely not dead'", Lexington Herald-Leader, August 31, 2013.
  25. ^ 21c Museum hotel opens in Oklahoma City, Press release, June 6, 2016
  26. ^ Steve Lackmeyer, "New 21c Museum Hotel will spur redevelopment of other OKC buildings", The Oklahoman, March 21, 2014.
  27. ^ Inside look: 21c debuts downtown Nashville hotel, Louisville Business First, May 11, 2017
  28. ^ Kevin Collison, "Savoy Hotel deal moving forward", The Kansas City Star, December 2, 2013.
  29. ^ "Art Museum, Hotel & Restaurant | Chicago, IL | 21c Museum Hotels". 21c Chicago. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  30. ^ Barker, Jacob (2019-03-13). "Downtown YMCA building to become contemporary-art themed hotel". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  31. ^ Norvell, Kim. "The Fifth's garage will open soon — next to two empty lots. The site's future is unclear". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved 2022-12-06.
  32. ^ Deal for 21c boutique hotel at old City Hall falls apart, Indianapolis Star, March 27, 2017
  33. ^ "Bentonville chef nominated for James Beard award". NWADG.com. Retrieved 2018-05-27.

External links[edit]