the Southerner Online

Contemporary art adds appeal to Nashville’s 21st Century Hotel

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






This piece is on the second floor of the gallery at 21st Century Museum Hotel. It is oil on linen, titled “Empire.” The artist, Steve Mumford, had hand-drawn documentation his experience in Iraq. Later, he compiled them to create moving works of art. “Empire” aims to illustrate the “numbing weariness of war and anxious boredom of the soldiers’ routine tasks,” through capturing the image of blindfolded prisoners being ushered onto an aircraft with their hands tied. 
(Quote taken from the description of the art on the wall of 21C)

Art by Steve Mumford, Photo by Ava Smith

This piece is on the second floor of the gallery at 21st Century Museum Hotel. It is oil on linen, titled “Empire.” The artist, Steve Mumford, had hand-drawn documentation his experience in Iraq. Later, he compiled them to create moving works of art. “Empire” aims to illustrate the “numbing weariness of war and anxious boredom of the soldiers’ routine tasks,” through capturing the image of blindfolded prisoners being ushered onto an aircraft with their hands tied. (Quote taken from the description of the art on the wall of 21C)

Whether it is 11 o’clock in the morning or 11 o’clock at night, track lights illuminate the works on the wall and the gaze of those studying them. Fragments of informal conversation can be heard from the restaurant as well as the exchange of greetings between guests and friendly staff. The music behind Hans Op de Beeck’s lyrical watercolor animation, “Night Time,” seems to narrate the thoughts of onlookers and gives the space a rhythm. In the lower gallery, there is little sound and many more thought-provoking art installations.

The 21st Century Museum Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., a four-hour drive north of Atlanta, is an art museum, boutique hotel and chef-driven restaurant. The focal point bringing these three together, is the power of contemporary art. The museum boasts carefully-curated exhibits with the intention of sparking important conversations. The hotel staff is comprised of artists including musicians, textile artists and stand-up comedians. Original works adorn the Grey&Dudley restaurant, and the food served is creative in flavor and presentation.

At 21C, the museum is the heart behind the business. It is the only hotel in the world that operates with the primary purpose of putting art into the community by making it accessible to anyone and everyone. Even outside of the hotel industry, very few places offer opportunities to experience art’s power at any time of day, free of charge. The implementation of this art into the atmosphere of the hotel sets it apart from other hotels. It also integrates the artistic culture of Nashville into the experience of guests.

“We don’t think of ourselves as an art hotel,” said Philip Forte, General Manager at 21C. “We’re a museum … it is a living, breathing, 21st-century museum.”

Exhibits circulate the nine 21C Museum Hotels and display pieces that founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson have collected, which, when not in use, are kept in an underground cave. The current exhibit, “Seeing Now,” aims to unveil and acknowledge both the obvious and implicit forces that sculpt the way we view the world, while also opening viewers’ minds to issues that we may otherwise remain blind to. With works of art covering social disunity, dimensions of violence and racial oppression, this exhibit has been controversial among guests.

“He [Forte] always says this to us, too, ‘I’m not really concerned about what you think of the art, but did you think something; did it provoke a thought?’ and we try to echo that, too,” said Kelly Oakley, a member of Guest Services staff who is a local artist herself.

Art is also the heart behind the people who work at 21C. Many of them are musicians or artists of countless other mediums. Because of this, the staff members make personal connections with the art. Another member of the Guest Services staff, Melissa McKnight, who works with textiles, gravitated toward two woven pieces that hang in the front lobby. One staff member was an art major and is able to integrate that into her job as the sales coordinator. Through this common ground, guests are able to discover what Nashville is really about by interacting not only with art but with artists.

“It’s really cool being surrounded and supported by other creators,” said Oakley.

At 21C Museum Hotel, everyone who steps through the door seems to be creative or interested in the creations of others. Recently, the painter of Michelle Obama’s presidential First Lady portrait visited the hotel for lunch. It has become a destination that captures the attention of local artists and artful souls from all over.

“We have a metaphorical spotlight that’s like, ‘If you like art, come here!’” said McKnight.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.

Navigate Left
  • Contemporary art adds appeal to Nashville’s 21st Century Hotel

    A&E

    Varuni Napoli offers a new workplace for Grady students

  • Contemporary art adds appeal to Nashville’s 21st Century Hotel

    A&E

    ‘The Help’ holds to high reviews

  • Contemporary art adds appeal to Nashville’s 21st Century Hotel

    A&E

    Drama department prepares ‘West Side Story’

  • Contemporary art adds appeal to Nashville’s 21st Century Hotel

    A&E

    Alum Eddie “Levi” Lee inspires students

  • Contemporary art adds appeal to Nashville’s 21st Century Hotel

    A&E

    Paolo’s, a Virginia-Highland staple for 18 years

Navigate Right

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






An upbeat website for a downtown school
Contemporary art adds appeal to Nashville’s 21st Century Hotel