21c Museum Hotels
Founded2006; 15 years ago (2006)
  • Laura Lee Brown
  • Steve Wilson
United States
Number of locations
9 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 nine properties in Louisville, Kentucky; Lexington, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois, 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

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:


Louisville, Kentucky

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] Located outside the establishment stands The Statue of David, a double-size, golden replica of Michelangelo's David, created by Turkish artist, Serkan Özkaya.[7] Originally a project for the Istanbul Biennial art exhibition, David unfortunately collapsed under his own weight. Özkaya salvaged and restored the statue and created two more casts, one of which was acquired by 21c Museum Hotels.[8]

The facility was designed by Deborah Berke & Partners Architects, for which they won the American Institute of Architects Kentucky Honor Award in 2011,[9] the AIA NYS Excellence for Historic Preservation/Adaptive Reuse in 2007,[10] and the Best of Year Award for Hospitality Design, Interior Design Magazine, in 2006.[11]

Cincinnati, Ohio

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

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.[12]

The Bentonville location was named one of the top 15 hotels in the US by Travel + Leisure Magazine in 2017.[13]

Durham, North Carolina

In March 2015 21c opened its fourth hotel in Durham, North Carolina.[14] 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.[15][16] 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

In February 2016 the Lexington hotel opened in the Fayette National Bank (aka First National Bank) building. [17][18]

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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.[19][20] 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.[21]

Nashville, Tennessee

In May 2017 the Nashville hotel opened in the historic Gray & Dudley building in downtown.[22]

Kansas City, Missouri

In July 2018 the group opened their 120 suite and gallery hotel in Kansas City, Missouri inside the historic Savoy Hotel and Grill [23]

Chicago, Illinois

In February 2020 21c opened a hotel in Chicago, Illinois renovating The James Hotel in Chicago's River North Gallery District.[24] With 297 rooms and over 10,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space, this marks the largest 21c property to date. [25][26]

Further developments

Additional properties are in active development. A location in St. Louis, Missouri [27] and Des Moines, Iowa are expected to complete in the next two years.[28]

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.[29] 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.[30]

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


  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. ^ Mariani, John (October 31, 2006). "Best New Restaurants 2006". Esquire.
  6. ^ "America's 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences". Food & Wine. October 2006.
  7. ^ "David (inspired by Michelangelo)". 21c Museum Hotel. Retrieved 10 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Golden Statue of David". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 10 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Honor Awards". AIA KY. 2011.
  10. ^ "Design Awards Layout". AIA NYS. 2007. Archived from the original on 2012-02-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Best of Year Awards". Interior Design. 2006. Archived from the original on 2012-03-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Brantley, Max (2010-06-08). "Waltons back 'arts' hotel". Arkansas Times.
  13. ^ "Bentonville's 21c Museum Hotel Ranks Among Top In Nation". Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS. 2017-07-29. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
  14. ^ 21c Museum Hotel opens, The News & Observer, March 17, 2015
  15. ^ Barbara De Lollis, "Durham, N.C., to get artsy, luxury 21c Museum Hotel", USA Today, August 8, 2012.
  16. ^ Amanda Jones Hoyle, "Construction starts on 21c Museum Hotel in Durham", Triangle Business Journal, June 28, 2013.
  17. ^ 21c opens fifth property, 21c Blog, February 2, 2016
  18. ^ Janet Patton, "Lexington's 21c hotel delayed to 2015, but 'definitely not dead'", Lexington Herald-Leader, August 31, 2013.
  19. ^ 21c Museum hotel opens in Oklahoma City, Press release, June 6, 2016
  20. ^ Steve Lackmeyer, "New 21c Museum Hotel will spur redevelopment of other OKC buildings", The Oklahoman, March 21, 2014.
  21. ^ 21c Oklahoma City honored by Travel + Leisure, 21c Blog, June 16, 2017
  22. ^ Inside look: 21c debuts downtown Nashville hotel, Louisville Business First, May 11, 2017
  23. ^ Kevin Collison, "Savoy Hotel deal moving forward", The Kansas City Star, December 2, 2013.
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^ [3]
  27. ^ Barker, Jacob (2019-03-13). "Downtown YMCA building to become contemporary-art themed hotel". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  28. ^ "Des Moines high-rise project adds boutique hotel, art museum". Des Moines Register. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  29. ^ Deal for 21c boutique hotel at old City Hall falls apart, Indianapolis Star, March 27, 2017
  30. ^ "Bentonville chef nominated for James Beard award". NWADG.com. Retrieved 2018-05-27.