It’s easy to find 21c Museum Hotel — just look up. 21c’s famous Red Penguins line the building’s façade, welcoming guests to this unusual place where 21st century contemporary art is king and a visit here becomes an adventure.

Walking into the hotel, you’ll know immediately that this place is different. A screen on the floor in front of the hotel desk is showing a film of two people sleeping in bed. Mesmerized, you watch and they sleep, tossing and turning as any couple might do in their slumber. 

Understanding that art drives commerce and enriches people’s lives, Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson opened the 90-room boutique hotel in 2006. Philanthropists and arts patrons had a vision for supporting the revitalization of Louisville’s downtown and engaging the public with contemporary art in a new way.

21c Museum

This is North America’s first museum dedicated solely to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art of the 21st century and visitors are welcome to tour the museum 24-hours a day whether they are a hotel guest or not.

Artwork from the International Contemporary Art Foundation, the collection of Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, and other artists, museums and collections are featured in the Street Level Gallery and the lower Atrium Gallery. Special exhibits are changed every six months.

In addition to permanent collections, the museum features group and solo exhibitions featuring emerging artists as well as established international artists.

Photographs, sculptures, video and multimedia exhibits fill unusual spaces including the restroom where video eyes watch you wash your hands: strange and inventive.

Art is even on display outside the hotel.

The hotel’s restaurant, Proof on Main, is known for its excellent food and professional service.

If you go:

21c Museum Hotel is located at 700 West Main Street. For more information check the website.