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Art Hotels: Boutique Hotels Making Art Part of the Experience


Hotels are looking for unique and colorful ways to set themselves apart. What better way to draw an art loving fan base and loyal following than to invest in a collection of original contemporary art and rotate the art exhibits between hotel locations? The ever-changing art that these hotels exhibit will create a new kind of travel experience for hotel guests and give locals a reason to stop by and see whats new at the museum.

One of my favorite hotel groups that is growing organically into this space is 21c Museum Hotels. 21c combines a contemporary art museum, boutique hotel and chef-driven farm-to-table restaurants that become a center for community by sharing genuine hospitality and artistic expression. The contemporary art collections they curate make people think, start conversations and energize communities. They exhibit art collections from the 21st century and make it available 24 hours a day at no charge. In this post, I’ll share a bit about the three 21c Museum Hotels I’ve been to during some of my “artventures.”



Why stay at a box hotel when you can spend the night at a contemporary art museum? We took a trip last summer to see the fabulous Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and decided to go ahead and make the whole weekend about art. We booked ourselves for the weekend at the 21c Museum Hotels in Bentonville, Arkansas which is perfectly located just off the town square. 
The Bentonville 21c Museum Hotel is home to the iconic green penguin, lots of humorous art and is supremely located near the Crytal Bridges Museum.

Each of the 21c Hotels has their own signature color penguins that playfully move around the hotel. The Bentonville location has their iconic green penguins roaming the halls…the restaurants…and the roof tops. You never know where they’ll show up!

Families gather, in the square next to the hotel, during the heat of the summer for their children to play in the city fountains. A short walk through the square will bring you to the entrance of a beautiful walking trail. This trailhead leads to a network of lush art filled pathways with the main paved path leading directly to Crystal Bridges; the main attraction in Bentonville. 

Once you park your car at the hotel, there is not much reason to move it. 21c hotel is near wonderful coffee shops, restaurants and sites all within walking distance. On top of everything else, when you get up in the morning there is a contemporary art museum right downstairs. Grab your coffee and peruse the art without leaving the building!


My favorite of the 21c locations we’ve visited so far is the 21c Museum Hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It has more than 14,000 square feet of art exhibition space. This 21c Museum Hotel is situated in the former home of a Ford Motor Company assembly plant, which dates back more than a century and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Oklahoma City 21c Museum Hotel has the presence of an airy contemporary art museum with multiple exhibit halls and interactive kinetic art.

The hotel takes full advantage of the openness of the former factory to showcase its contemporary art. The lobby of the hotel is home to a sculpture fabricated out of automotive glass. The green glass panels move continuously as if they are on conveyor belts; a nod to the rich industrial heritage of the space its in. If you squint your eyes when looking at the abstract lighting in the sculpture, you’ll see the piece doubles as a large digital clock.

You can grab a cocktail at their impressive bar and wander gallery-to-gallery interpreting, relating and sometimes interacting with the art installations. One of the most memorable interactive pieces are the cone-shaped chairs that test your balance and are particularly fun and challenging to sit in with a drink in hand!


Our very own 21c Museum Hotel opened in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2018. The old Savoy Hotel and restaurant, which holds a historic and colorful past of its own, has come back to life as this contemporary art museum hotel. This location sports the sky blue penguins that roam the same halls that presidents, celebrities and gangsters once roamed. The gallery space in this location is a bit smaller than the other two we’ve visited, but its exhibitions were still extremely intriguing. 
The Kansas City 21c Museum Hotel is home of the Sky Blue Penguin, fabulous colorful chandeliers and ever-changing art exhibits.

Be sure to look up, down and all around so you don’t miss the eclectic colorful chandeliers which serve as permanent installations of functional art. The most striking light fixture is in the lobby, but don’t miss the one that appears to be made of Tibetan chimes and graces the exit hall just off the bar.

Luckily for everyone the concept of art based hotels is catching on. In every one we’ve gone to we agree that, “You will come for the art and stay for the food.”

Have you stayed at one of the 21c Museum Hotels or another boutique hotel that shares art with their patrons and communities? Share your “artventure” hotel finds with us in the comment section below!

While Lynette’s 25+ year career has produced a versatile portfolio of award-winning photography and design, it is her calling as an abstract painter that is emerging in full, vibrant fashion today. Her artistic vision now manifests itself in contemporary abstract acrylic paintings that feature an explosive style of remarkable depth, motion, and fluidity.

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