Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, the contemporary art collectors behind the award-winning 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, announced the opening of the company’s third property located just off Bentonville’s historic square and a quarter mile from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Building on its mission of sharing today’s most dynamic art with the public, the hotel incorporates 12,000 square feet of exhibition, meeting and event space and eight site-specific installations throughout the property.
“Bentonville is a particularly interesting location for our third property,” said Steve Wilson, Co-Founder and CEO of 21c Museum Hotels. “Hidden behind a small town is a hub of global commerce with a rapidly emerging arts, entertainment and culinary scene. The combination of municipal, private and community investment has created a renaissance in the region, and 21c will be an additional creative, educational and civic resource for the people of Northwest Arkansas.”
The 104-room hotel offers a new space for visitors and residents of Bentonville to experience genuine hospitality, enjoy modern, local cuisine and interact with cutting edge contemporary art. Features include:
- 12,000 square feet of exhibition, meeting and event space featuring rotating curated exhibitions, multi-media installations and cultural programming such as artist lectures and live performances. The exhibition space is open to the public and free of charge, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Indoor and outdoor event spaces with the latest technology and contemporary art including the Art Yard with fire pit, flexible furniture, and site-specific art installation by Cuban artist Alexandre Arrechea titled “Orange Tree.”
- The Hive restaurant, under the direction of executive chef and Arkansas native Matthew McClure, the menu emphasizes the unique culinary identity of the state while articulating McClure’s approach to refined country cuisine.
- The 21c Suite is a one-bedroom suite that embraces the founders’ ethos of “living with art.” It features original art, a private outdoor terrace, living room, dining area, wet bar and powder room.
- Bike Friendly Amenities to complement a network of over 20 miles of trails including pedestrian pathways and bikeways as well as world class all-terrain mountain bike trails. Beginning this spring, guests can expect perks such as free cruiser bicycles or bike rentals through a partnership with a local bike shop, bike storage for guests and employees, and bike valet.
Art at 21c
21c Museum presents a range of arts programming curated by Chief Curator and Director of Art Programming Alice Gray Stites in collaboration with Brown and Wilson. The property features rotating solo and group exhibitions that reflect the global nature of art today, site-specific installations and cultural programming.
The hotel features eight site-specific installations integrated into a variety of spaces around and within the building, responding to both the architecture and to the surrounding environment. The collection of works is titled “Outside\in,” and includes sculpture, painting, wallpaper, installation and new media art. Works include Daan Roosegaarde’s “FLOW 5.0,” a smart wall composed of hundreds of ventilators that respond to passing visitors, creating an imagined landscape of transparent fields and artificial winds. The sculpture is Roosegaarde’s first permanent commissioned project in the U.S. Other artists featured are Sam Van Aken, Serkan Ozkaya, Alexandre Arrechea, Anne Peabody, Chris Doyle, Mattia Bonetti and Rob Wynne.
The museum will feature two inaugural exhibitions, both on view through July 2013. The first is a solo exhibition of American artists Slater Bradley and Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Ed Lachman. “Dead Ringer” is a groundbreaking collaboration between Bradley and Lachman, which includes two video installations and a series of photographs referencing “Dark Blood,” an unreleased 1993 film starring River Phoenix that was in production during the time of Phoenix's death. The works explore the artist’s interest in the actor, and the emotions and relationships created and fractured among fans and icons.
Also on view is a group exhibition entitled “Hybridity: The New Frontier,” which features over 85 works from the 21c collection. Employing photography, painting, sculpture and video, the exhibition explores the diminishing boundaries between human and animals, recent advances in scientific technology, and the shifting environmental and economic conditions actively altering the earth and its inhabitants. Featured artists include Amelia Biewald, Edward Burtynsky, Oleg Dou, Elena Dorfman, Johnston Foster, Patricia Piccinini, Ken Little, Hong-Yo Ji, and Pieter Hugo.
Architect Deborah Berke’s design balances grand public spaces scaled to suit an extensive contemporary art collection with intimate, inviting private spaces. The property’s public and gallery spaces are elegant and modern with high ceilings, cool tones and polished concrete floors, while guest rooms, also designed by Berke, offer a distinctly residential feel with its custom designed furniture in subtle neutral tones. The integration of natural light is a central focus throughout the 100,000 square foot property. The design team achieved this through the use of skylights, light monitors, large windows and an interior courtyard visible from the restaurant and the main corridor near the guest elevators. Exterior benches made of local stone establish a relationship between the building and the surrounding landscape, as does the richly hued brick of the main facade.
Berke’s other work includes the Yale School of Art and New Theater, and the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. Her work on 21c Louisville won two AIA chapter awards, one for Excellence for Historic Preservation/Adaptive Reuse and another for Achievement of Excellence in Hotel Design. Berke, a Professor of Architectural Design at the Yale School of Architecture, is a member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame and was recently awarded the inaugural Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship and Prize.
21c Museum Hotels Team
In addition to Brown and Wilson, 21c Museum Hotels is comprised of a growing team of experienced and entrepreneurial individuals who oversee the development and operations of the company’s hotel and restaurant projects. President and founding partner Craig Greenberg, an expert in historic and new market tax credits, and tax increment financing, has been featured on Bloomberg television and has spoken on the topic at the Urban Land Institute’s Fall 2011 Meeting and at the Lifestyle/Boutique 2012 Hotel Development Conference. The 21c team also includes COO Chett Abramson and Senior Vice President of Operations Sarah Robbins, both formerly of Myriad Restaurant Group; Senior Vice President of Design + Communications Molly Swyers, previously of Gap and Calvin Klein; and General Counsel Phillip Allen, who was previously with Louisville-based YUM! Brands. With the completion of 21c Bentonville, the company now employs over 500 people across all of its locations.
About 21c Museum Hotels
Founded in 2007, 21c Museum Hotels is a growing company that oversees the expansion and management of 21c Museum Hotels nationally. The first hotel was founded in Louisville, Kentucky by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, contemporary art collectors and preservationists, who had a vision for bringing art into people’s daily lives and supporting the revitalization of their hometown. The couple selected architect Deborah Berke to convert five 19th century tobacco and bourbon warehouses into a 90-room boutique hotel, contemporary art museum, award-winning restaurant Proof on Main, and cultural civic center in the heart of downtown Louisville. The property’s 9,000 square feet of contemporary art space features a rotating program of curated exhibitions as well as site-specific commissioned installations. 21c Louisville has earned top honors five years in a row in the Condé Nast Traveler annual Readers’ Choice survey and was voted among the top hotels in the world. With the success of the Louisville property, and with strong local partners who share the belief that art can be an economic driver for a community, 21c is expanding outside of Louisville. 21c Cincinnati opened in November of 2012 in the 100-year-old former Metropole Hotel building in the heart of downtown’s Backstage District. Offering 8,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space, multi-media site-specific art installations, 156 rooms and a spa and rooftop bar. The property also features Metropole restaurant led by chef Michael Paley. Bentonville, AR is the company’s third property to open, and future properties have been announced in Lexington, KY and Durham, NC. For more information visit www.21cMuseumHotels.com.