Nashville is the newest 21c Museum Hotel location, and while out-of-towners may be more likely to book the rooms for overnight stays, locals need to know about this impressive new downtown destination, which is filled with art and offers one-of-a-kind event spaces. We recently toured the hotel, found out what went into creating and curating the museum and discovered what unique features this special space has to offer.
Proprietors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, who own an extensive art collection, have blended their idea of presenting art to the public with hotel accommodations in revitalized structures. The Nashville 21c Museum Hotel has 124 guest rooms, including five terrace suites with enviable views of downtown and three rooms curated by trending artists (e.g. “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier) to provide an interesting interactive experience. The current Nashville art exhibit, Truth or Dare: A Reality Show, has works of 21st century artists from all over the world on display throughout, and original art from the proprietors’ permanent collection is displayed in every room and on the elevators.
“The art is a conversation starter,” says Events Manager Lisa Curry, “and the artwork rotates every six to nine months. You can host an event here in August and come back a year later and have a totally different experience. The space is already full of clean white lines and engaging art; additional décor typically is not needed. The artwork makes neat backdrops for wedding photos.”
One of the most significant features of the 21c Museum Hotel is that every event associated with a wedding — the bridal lunch, rehearsal dinner, guest accommodations and the ceremony and reception — can take place on site. Furthermore, the stunning 21c suite with private terrace has a spacious living room for hair and makeup, and what more perfect place for a wedding night than a room with a sweeping view of the river and city?
For any event, the 21c Museum Hotel offers 10,500 square feet of space, featuring natural lighting and two floor-to-ceiling walls, which open up the space and create overlooks. The main gallery provides banquet-round seating for 140 guests and accommodates 250 guests for standing receptions. The 21c also has five other galleries for events, including a hallway-type space perfect for a long communal table surrounded by art. Gathering in one of two private rooms in Gray & Dudley, the museum hotel’s restaurant, is a possibility as well, while the 21c suite, which can accommodate 75 people, is perfect for receptions.
As people navigate the museum hotel during its early months, they will notice such works as Serkan Özkaya’s installation, An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Nashville. The adventure through the Truth or Dare exhibit brings visitors in touch with maps, destinations, visual poetry, large-scale cultural re-configuration, and more. (How many times will you answer the question, “Is it reality or is it illusion?”) Another fun activity is finding and posing with the signature 21c icons, the penguins, made by Cracking Art Group, whose name describes the sound of molding recycled plastic as the penguins are created.
In addition to weddings and social engagements, the 21c Museum Hotel galleries accommodate corporate groups for meetings and team-building activities, and 21c offers communal activities for the public, such as its inaugural Fourth of July fireworks viewing party, which took place earlier this week. The hotel is an ideal staycation spot, and it also makes for a memorable first date or art crawl stop: Grab a drink in Gray & Dudley and explore. Take a private cocktail lesson or host a private bourbon and whisky tasting in the restaurant, or plan to join a “Yoga & Art” class (Sundays at 10 a.m., beginning in mid-July, for a modest price of $5 per session). Enjoy a free guided tour with Museum Manager Brian Downey (Wednesdays and Fridays at 5 p.m.), or feel free to view the art any hour of any day. At Gray & Dudley, view the exhibit of large ceramic sculptures by Beth Cavener Stichter as you try one of Executive Chef Levon Wallace’s creations — Bayou shrimp and Delta rice? A new best burger in town? Olive & Sinclair chocolate cremeux?
All the colorful flavors on the palette of Chef Wallace and the stellar contemporary art of the Nashville 21c Museum Hotel are housed in the former Gray & Dudley wholesale hardware warehouse, now on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum hotel has the same exterior as it did in the early 1900s, and it remains no taller than it originally was.
“We really want the 21c Museum Hotels to blend in with the fabric of Nashville and the other cities they’re in, and on the inside, we want it to be something completely unexpected,” Lisa says. Clean lines, contemporary art, choice cuisine and thoughtful historic preservation make 21c Museum Hotel the perfect place to host an event of any kind … or simply to stop in for a drink and a tour.
This article is sponsored by 21c Museum Hotel.