21c Museum Hotel NashvillePhotography courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels • October 19, 2017
The longterm partnership between New York’s Deborah Berke Partners and the 21c Museum Hotels brand continues with the newest in Nashville, which furthers the company’s art-first ethos, transforming the former early 20th-century Gray & Dudley Hardware Company warehouse into part hotel, part art gallery, where original elements like concrete floors, exposed metal and wooden beams, and cast-iron columns juxtapose rich upholstery and a layered color palette. The perforated, blackened steel two-story public stair with leather-wrapped handrails is a “signature element that helps visitors orient themselves within the hotel,” says founder Deborah Berke, while also acting as a contrast to the white gallery walls lined with eye-catching pieces.
In a nod to Nashville’s role as an entertainment haven, video art is displayed throughout the hotel, “adding to the dynamic, 24-hour elements,” she says. The inaugural exhibition, Truth or Dare: A Reality Show (on view until February) showcases more than 100 works that “investigate the topic of surveillance,” says Alice Gray Stites, 21c’s chief curator and museum director. For instance, Serkan Ozkaya’s “An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Nashville” uses a wall to depict what’s going on in a seating area behind the screen. “You can even watch what is happening in the shop and lounge on the other side of the reception desk,” she adds.
Other innovative pieces include a mixed media hologram sculpture from Charles Matton; Mulas, a film by Miguel Angel Pojas that follows three riderless mules in the Andes in the video lounge; and in the main gallery downstairs, “Win-Win” by Trong Gia Nguyen is half of a ping pong table connected to a mirror that allows you to play a game of one-on-one.
Along with photographs from 21c founder Laura Lee Brown’s travels in the 124 guestrooms, three suites—the Ouroboros Mosquito suite by actor Adrian Grenier; the Yung Jake room by artist and rapper Yung Jake; and artist Sebastiaan Bremer’s Sanctuary 21c—drive the art hotel concept home. Of course, no 21c property is fully christened without the brand’s signature colorful flock of penguins: here, the group of teal birds offer serenity, strength, clarity, and a whimsical welcoming.