21c Museum Hotels

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21c Museum Hotels
Founded2006; 13 years ago (2006)
  • Laura Lee Brown
  • Steve Wilson
United States
Number of locations
8 hotels (+ 2 more under development)
Area served
United States

21c Museum Hotels is a Louisville-based combination contemporary art museum and boutique hotel chain. As of 2018, it has been acquired by AccorHotels and manages eight properties in Louisville, Kentucky; Lexington, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio; Bentonville, Arkansas, Durham, North Carolina, Oklahoma City, OK, Kansas City, MO and Nashville, Tennessee.[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. 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati was named the top hotel in America in 2013 by Conde Nast Traveler's annual reader survey, and 11th in the world.[3]


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.

Following the success of the Louisville location, additional 21c locations were put into motion, with 7 currently in operation and more in the planning or construction stages.

In July 2018, 21C Museum Hotels was acquired by the French Hotel Group AccorHotels for a sum of $51 Million. Founders Brown and Wilson maintain a 15% stake and continue to be involved with the company.[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, Yyinka Shonibare, Judy Fox, Chuck Close, Alfredo Jaar, David Herbert, Daan Roosegaarde, Anastasia Schipani, 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


Louisville, Kentucky[edit]

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]

Cincinnati, Ohio[edit]

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.

Bentonville, Arkansas[edit]

The third location in Bentonville opened in 2013. The museum hotel is a small walk away from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The hotel is located on land that was once a corn field outside of the urban center of Bentonville.[10]

The Bentonville location was named one of the top 15 hotels in the US by Travel + Leisure Magazine in 2017.[11]

Durham, North Carolina[edit]

In March 2015 21c opened its fourth hotel in Durham, North Carolina.[12] 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.[13][14] 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 (aka First National Bank) building. [15][16]

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma[edit]

In June 2016 21c opened a hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in the Fred Jones Assembly Plant built in 1915, where the Ford Model T was assembled.[17][18] The hotel has been to Travel + Leisure magazine’s 2017 It List of Best New Hotels Around the World, as one of 44 best new and radically redone hotels and resorts around the world of the past year.[19]

Nashville, Tennessee[edit]

In May 2017 the Nashville hotel opened in the historic Gray & Dudley building in downtown.[20]

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 [21]

Further developments[edit]

Additional properties are in active development. A location in Des Moines, Iowa is expected to complete construction by 2021.[22]

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.[23] 21c Museum Hotels will still be seeking to open a location in the city.


Each 21c location has an onsite restaurant, with many receiving recognition and awards including multiple James Beard Foundation Award finalists for excellence in cuisine.[24]

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


  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. ^ Mann, David (July 31, 2018). "21c Museum Hotels to be sold to international hotel chain". BizJournals.com. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  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. Archived from the original on 2012-02-25.
  9. ^ "Best of Year Awards". Interior Design. 2006. Archived from the original on 2012-03-25.
  10. ^ "Waltons back 'arts' hotel," Arkansas Times, June 2010, http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2010/06/08/waltons-back-arts-hotel
  11. ^ "Bentonville's 21c Museum Hotel Ranks Among Top In Nation". Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS. 2017-07-29. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
  12. ^ 21c Museum Hotel opens, The News & Observer, March 17, 2015
  13. ^ Barbara De Lollis, "Durham, N.C., to get artsy, luxury 21c Museum Hotel", USA Today, August 8, 2012.
  14. ^ Amanda Jones Hoyle, "Construction starts on 21c Museum Hotel in Durham", Triangle Business Journal, June 28, 2013.
  15. ^ 21c opens fifth property, 21c Blog, February 2, 2016
  16. ^ Janet Patton, "Lexington's 21c hotel delayed to 2015, but 'definitely not dead'", Lexington Herald-Leader, August 31, 2013.
  17. ^ 21c Museum hotel opens in Oklahoma City, Press release, June 6, 2016
  18. ^ Steve Lackmeyer, "New 21c Museum Hotel will spur redevelopment of other OKC buildings", The Oklahoman, March 21, 2014.
  19. ^ 21c Oklahoma City honored by Travel + Leisure, 21c Blog, June 16, 2017
  20. ^ Inside look: 21c debuts downtown Nashville hotel, Louisville Business First, May 11, 2017
  21. ^ Kevin Collison, "Savoy Hotel deal moving forward", The Kansas City Star, December 2, 2013.
  22. ^ "Des Moines high-rise project adds boutique hotel, art museum". Des Moines Register. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  23. ^ Deal for 21c boutique hotel at old City Hall falls apart, Indianapolis Star, March 27, 2017
  24. ^ "Bentonville chef nominated for James Beard award". NWADG.com. Retrieved 2018-05-27.

External links[edit]