Historic Hotels of America® is known for its hotels’ stunning architecture, colorful gardens, elegant hospitality, and romantic settings, and their amenities are often enhanced with historic, museum-quality art collections. Historic hotels across the United States offer guests the opportunity to experience and enjoy a variety of artwork: furniture, paintings, sculpture, augmented reality, fountains and more. Many historic hotels were founded by wealthy art collectors, such as the Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel, and many more are managed in part by art museum professionals, such as staff at the historic 21c Museum Hotels in Nashville, Louisville, Oklahoma City, Durham, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Lexington, and Chicago. 21c Museum Hotels are multi-venue contemporary art museums, coupled with boutique hotels, that present over twenty exhibitions each year for communities and guests to enjoy. The list below highlights historic hotels that are truly museums where you can stay the night.
Morris House Hotel (1787)
The eclectic art collection of the Morris House Hotel, inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2022, might be one-of-a-kind. The Philadelphia hotel’s neighbor, artist Bill Whiting, created a series of oil paintings in the style of Revolutionary and Federal Era style portraiture. The period-looking oil portraits and subjects are not of people from the 18th century, although they are painted with 18th-century garb, but are of current friends and family of the Morris House Hotel. There are a few historic portraits at the hotel, however, of former owners Luke Wistar Morris and his wife, Anne, who purchased the home in 1817. It is unknown when the Morris couple’s portraits were originally painted. The hotel acquired the portraits in 2012 when a prominent auction house called the inn’s managing partners to say they had the original portraits, which had been in different private homes for over 150 years. While those portraits of the Morris couple are the most valuable in the inn’s collection, guests are drawn to the whimsical modern portraits by Whiting. A portrait painter in Philadelphia for over 40 years, Whiting painted the inn’s management and friends in historical style. For example, the Dutch Master-style portrait is actually a modern-day real estate lawyer. The portrait of the monocled man in the red jacket is another friend of the management. Whiting uses a variety of techniques to “age” his modern portraits. For example, one portrait was made to look aged by putting the dried oil painting in a freezer, rolled up. After two weeks, Whiting unrolled it and cracked it on his kitchen table giving it an authentic look. Owner Deborah Lefevre said of the art, “We love that all of Bill’s work follows the light-hearted, loving attitude of the Morris House owners... giving it a little extra panache that we love sharing with our guests.”
21c Museum Hotel Louisville (1800)
The 21c Museum Hotel Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, was the first of the 21c Museum Hotels, founded in 2006 by contemporary art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson. They began collecting at the turn of the 21st century and founded the 21c Museum Hotel Louisville with the goal of making contemporary art a part of more people’s daily lives. The hotel is comprised of five formerly abandoned 19th-century warehouses located in the heart of Louisville’s West Main Street Historic District. With the buildings restored and renovated, they were converted into the 21c Museum Hotel Louisville which was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2019. As the first museum in North America to focus solely on presenting the art of the 21st century, this 21c Museum Hotel features contemporary art by emerging artists alongside acclaimed international artists – in both its galleries and unexpected places – from the sidewalks to the elevators. Visitors, tourists, and the public, as well as hotel and restaurant guests, are greeted by multiple artworks outside of 21c Museum Hotel Louisville before entering to explore the art within the building. Serkan Özkaya’s 30-foot-tall David (inspired by Michelangelo) can be seen from blocks away as they approach the historic hotel. This double-sized golden replica of Michelangelo’s David has become a popular Main Street landmark since its installation in 2011. Another frequently photographed work at the 21c Museum Hotel Louisville is the art car Arillated: The 21c Pip Mobile that is parked outside the main entrance. Louisville artist Monica Mahoney bejeweled a 1996 Lincoln Town Car with thousands of red glass gems to resemble the interior of a pomegranate. In addition, Ned Kahn’s Cloud Rings is situated within a sunken courtyard and visible from the sidewalk outside, as well as through windows on each floor of the building, and is part of a series by the artist that enables viewers to observe and interact with natural processes. 21c Museum Hotels provides access for the public to view the exhibitions free of charge, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, and free docent tours for the public.
The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection (1847)
Point Clear, Alabama
Few Alabamians are known by only one name, but then very few can command the international reputation of the artist Nall. The historic Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa in Point Clear, Alabama, considers it an honor to be able to say Nall’s works adorn the resort’s restaurants, lounges, lobby, guest rooms, and spa. Born Fred Nall Hollis in Troy, Alabama in 1948, Nall has been creating art in a variety of genres for more than 50 years: paintings, mosaics, line engravings, sculpture, glassware, and jewelry. He is known for the way he incorporates the frame into the message of his work. Nall contributed over 150 pieces to The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, and loaned them in 2002, after a major renovation and restoration of the resort. During The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa’s transformation, the resort added a Nall Suite and a connecting gallery overlooking the historic main lobby. Nall also created large camellia prints for the reception desk wall. Other new pieces are in guestrooms and other locations throughout the resort. Nall’s philosophy about art is that true art cannot be taught: “you follow your own rules and express from your heart, not your intellect.” Prior to the pandemic, Nall offered tours of his art at the resort. Today, guests can freely walk around The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa and admire the collection.
Mohonk Mountain House (1869)
New Paltz, New York
Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, has an extensive art collection of over 1800 pieces that showcase artists who chose Hudson Valley people and scenery as their subjects. Many of these artists were locals or stayed as guests at the Mountain House. The art collection truly speaks to the rich and robust history of the Mohonk Mountain House. The most famous artists in the Mohonk collection are Daniel Huntington and Henry Van Ingen. Huntington, a native New Yorker, first exhibited his work at the National Academy of Design in 1866 and painted landscapes in the tradition of the Hudson River School as well as portraits. It is believed he was the first artist to portray Mohonk Lake and its environs. Huntington also painted portraits of both Albert K. Smiley and Eliza P. Smiley – founders of the mountain resort hotel – during his time at Mohonk Mountain House. Many of the hotel’s pieces by Henry Van Ingen, including many of the oil paintings that are exhibited in the Central Staircase and Winter Lounge, were selected by Albert K. Smiley. Each one of those pieces is curated by and installed under the direction of Pril Smiley, Director of Art and fourth generation descendent of the hotel founders. Approximately 800 pieces are distributed throughout the Mohonk Mountain House hallways, public spaces, and guestrooms, to allow guests to experience the collection during their stay. A guidebook to the oil paintings is available in the Mohonk Gift Shop: Paintings at Mohonk: Visions of Our Surroundings by Sanford A. Levy. The hotel also offers a free self-guided tour through its ‘Hidden Histories’ app. Hidden Histories is an augmented reality (AR) experience that will immerse guests in the history of the storied resort. When viewing the artwork through the app, guests will see the walls of the Mohonk Mountain House come to life and unlock Mohonk Stories.
Palmer House®, A Hilton Hotel (1871)
When guests arrive at the lobby at the Palmer House, A Hilton Hotel in Chicago, Illinois and look up, they know they have entered a work of art. Above them is the magnificent ceiling of 21 Grecian murals by French artist Luis Pierre Rigal, and the majestic Tiffany & Co. 24-karat gold Winged Angels. Throughout the hotel, design is paramount. A visit to see the art collection at the Palmer House is almost like visiting an extension of the Art Institute of Chicago. The hotel’s founders, Bertha and Potter Palmer, were great art collectors and Bertha Palmer bestowed much of their collection to the Art Institute of Chicago in her will. Her sons supplemented the bequest with a donation of thirty-two additional paintings and pastels. In 1922, the Palmer collection was installed in galleries 25 and 26, which is present-day galleries 206 and 207, respectively, in the museum’s Allerton Building. The core of their collection was Impressionist paintings, which included works by artists such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Edgar Degas. Many of these paintings are now among the highlights of the museum’s permanent collection. When the Palmers began collecting Impressionist art in the 1890s, it was considered radical, even controversial. It is due to Mrs. Palmer’s forward-thinking, influence, and willingness to pursue her own taste, rather than follow trends, that Chicago is home to one of the greatest collections of Impressionism in the world.
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa (1876)
Any stroll through the richly appointed Spanish Art Gallery of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California, makes for a magical evening in the midst of an exquisite art collection. The historic hotel’s Spanish Art Gallery was designed in 1914 to display a vast collection of paintings from around the world, collected by the Miller hotelier family. The room itself is a work of art: regal 17th-century European décor in a warm palette of gold offers sophistication. The venue features a grand marble staircase with wrought iron, a ceiling richly draped in gilded canopy, and a centuries-old door of carved pomegranate. The Spanish Art Gallery can accommodate up to 150 guests for private events. The room’s great height is enhanced by the draped canopied ceiling. The Spanish Art Gallery is located on the lobby level and may be accessed through the first floor Atrio Court. Looking for more? A short walk from the hotel will bring guests to the Riverside Art Museum, showcasing individual, group and permanent exhibits of traditional and modern/contemporary art within a historic, architecturally significant building that dates to 1929.
Lancaster Arts Hotel (1881)
The historic Lancaster Arts Hotel serves as one of Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s premiere art galleries, displaying over $300,000 worth of fine art on its historic walls. The gallery exposes the work of established artists to a broader audience and promotes the rich fabric of the arts in Lancaster County. The hotel building was once a 19th-century tobacco warehouse, and much later renovated, restored, and turned into a vibrant hotel, which was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2008. Boasting a mixture of paintings and sculptures, and a combination of 16 local artists on display throughout the hotel at any given time, the hotel has featured over 32 artists since opening in 2006. Many of the pieces on display are available for sale based on the artist’s discretion. While tours are not given, the artwork is displayed throughout the hotel and guests are welcome to view the paintings at any time. The Lancaster Arts Hotel’s main gallery is open daily for guests to visit and serves as a unique space for functions and events.
Casa Monica Resort & Spa (1888)
St. Augustine, Florida
The ambiance of the Casa Monica Resort & Spa in St. Augustine, Florida exquisitely joins the hotel’s historic roots with a bohemian aesthetic to be open, curious and adventurous. The hotel’s founder, Richard C. Kessler, collected masterful works in oil, blown glass and porcelain from around the world and the hotel’s Corporate Director of Galleries has bolstered the Kessler aesthetic by upholding a high bar for what is exhibited at the hotel and the hotel’s gallery, The Grand Bohemian Art Gallery. Oil paintings, sculpture, and antiques may be enjoyed in the resort’s restaurants, hallways, and guestrooms. One of the resort’s most impressive series is the “Five Women of Saint Augustine” by Marianne Lerbs. This series depicts the history of St. Augustine through the lives of five courageous women who successfully and resiliently made their marks. First of the five portraits depicts Luella Day McConnell, who is credited with the creation of the Fountain of Youth attraction in St. Augustine. Second depicted is Anna Kingsley who arrived in St. Augustine, enslaved, from Senegal, and who received a Spanish land grant for upholding Spain’s claim to La Florida against the British colonists. Third, Abbie M. Brooks, a 19th-century writer known for sharing her sun-filled travels through Florida with Northerners in the 1870s. Fourth, Mary Evans (Maria) Fenwick was a professional midwife from Havana, Cuba, and the subject of Eugenia Price’s novel, Maria. The final subject of the series is Doña Antonia, the sister of King Carlos of the Calusa Indian tribe. Visit the Casa Monica Resort & Spa and its Grand Bohemian Art Gallery to see the collection. With a reservation, gallery staff will create a memorable walk-through of the hotel and gallery collection for hotel guests and art patrons. Private gallery events may also be arranged.
The Pfister Hotel (1893)
The Pfister Hotel’s art collection is reportedly the largest Victorian art collection of any hotel in the world. Collected by Guido and Charles Pfister, the historic Milwaukee, Wisconsin, hotel keeps at least 80 pieces of 19th and early 20th-century Salon and Genre works on permanent display. Drawn from a variety of styles and subject matters, and gracing the setting for which they were selected, the collection offers guests a rare glimpse into the tastes and sensibilities that enlivened the Belle Epoque. Visitors can explore and learn about this art collection with a self-guided tour or a scheduled tour with the hotel’s current Artist-in-Residence. As guests enter, they are greeted by the two bronze statues called the Pikemen dating back to the opening of the hotel, standing on each side of the entrance. In the lobby are the well-known Pfister Lions, today called “Dick” and “Harry.” Charles Pfister used to introduce them as “Mason” and “Jefferson” to his guests. Moving through the hotel, nearly all the art embraces a style that was very much in vogue in the early 1900s, and is a complement to the hotel’s history. The landscapes, portraits, and sculptures are distributed throughout the hotel and serve as a welcome invitation at the top of each stairway or down a long corridor. Currently, the hotel offers self-guided tours of the art collection.
XV Beacon (1903)
Not only is the 1903 Boston hotel a work of art, designed by renowned Boston architect Williams Gibbons Preston, but the XV Beacon also distinguishes itself with an extensive art collection of its own. The hotel invites guests to “tour the work and feel a stirring of the soul.” The prized pieces of its collection include: an ancient Roman mosaic; canvases by America’s foremost portraitist Gilbert Stuart, whose images of President Washington are impressed into the nation’s imagination; works by contemporary abstract painter Maggi Brown, and much more. This collection has given the XV Beacon its status as a hidden gem in the Boston arts and culture scene. Greeting guests in the lobby, Jules Olitski’s joyful Green Dot canvas. Olitski, a Russian-born post-painterly abstractionist, has been recognized as one of the century’s brightest talents by Architectural Digest magazine. Specially commissioned works by Martha Lloyd, Joe Greene, Tony Evanko, Ben Freeman and other artists hang in XV Beacon’s guestrooms. The hotel explains, “when travel stress hits, nothing grounds the soul like art.” In Mooo…. Restaurant’s Wine Cellar, a stunning Roman mosaic dating from the fourth to the fifth century A.D. depicts two cavorting deer amidst flowers, amphorae, and fish. At this storied hotel, old becomes new again. XV Beacon’s art collection reflects self-awareness of its place in history and, simultaneously, its commitment to environmentally sound policies and practices.
21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati (1912)
The 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati in Ohio is the second oldest of nine 21c Museum Hotel locations for this multi-venue museum with a total of over 90,000 square feet of dedicated exhibition space. A team of museum professionals organize solo and thematic group exhibitions featuring works from the collection, which change annually. In 2022, the hotel is exhibiting Dress Up, Speak Up: Regalia and Resistance: a bedecked and bejeweled occupation of space and time, evoking past and present, fact and fiction, memory and desire, to illuminate the complexity of contemporary identity. These representations of self and other role-play in real time, reaching back through history to address prevailing personal, social, and political challenges. The exhibit includes 69 works of sculpture, painting, works on paper, and a site-specific installation from 36 artists representing 19 different countries. One work is by Jeffrey Gibson, an artist of Cherokee and Choctaw heritage. Gibson’s garment piece on view is inspired by the regalia associated with the Ghost Dance, a 19th-century Native American practice conceived as resistance to white domination; but its bright palette also refers to queer club culture, thus making visible another community that has historically been oppressed. Commissioned site-specific works can also be found throughout the 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati. One such piece is Uros, a light sculpture by interdisciplinary artist Grimanesa Amorós. Although originally designed to be a floor installation, the artist adapted Uros to be installed as a wall sculpture in 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati. As part of 21c Museum Hotels’ mission to integrate contemporary art into daily life, thought-provoking works are installed both indoors and out. The historic 1912 building that the museum hotel calls home was reimagined by Deborah Berke Partners in 2012. The redesign preserved historic spaces like the ballroom while creating new spaces to highlight contemporary art. The side exterior wall of 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati features a mural, Vibrant Minds Colorful Lines, painted by KIIK Create and Jenny Ustick. Created in 2017, this work activates the site’s brick alley, a well-traversed route of downtown pedestrians. 21c Museum Hotels provides access for the public to view the exhibitions free of charge, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, and free docent tours for the public.
Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton (1913)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
The Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton offers guests and visitors a chance to experience the America at Work collection by artist Paul Collins. The Grand Rapids, Michigan, hotel’s art collection is comprised of 25 paintings depicting scenes of railroad workers, engineers, astronauts, U.S. Marines, farmers and more. The concept for the series came from the experience Collins had answering questions about the culture in the United States, questions that were common for him while he resided in other countries. One of the most impressive Collins pieces on display at the Amway Grand Plaza is a painted mural titled The Bond, which depicts the interrelationship between Amway’s founders, their families, the independent distributor organization, employees, and consumers. The seven-foot mural was originally a gift from the independent Amway Distributors Association, commemorating Amway’s first 25 years. The collection was originally unveiled in 1982 at the U.S. Department of Labor and was then gifted to the historic hotel by the Amway Distributors Association. Collins sees America at Work in the people whose labor impacts each other’s daily lives and lifts Americans up. Collins said of his America at Work series, “In society today, we seem to regard the celebrities or untouchables as our heroes. As a result, those who surround us slip through the cracks and seldom receive the title ‘hero.’ I decided to shine the light upon those people.” The collection is on permanent display in public areas, including meeting and event spaces, at the Amway Grand Plaza. Guests are invited to enjoy the art while exploring the hotel or attending a meeting or event.
Chatham Bars Inn (1914)
The historic Chatham Bars Inn resort on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, invites guests and visitors to view several highlighted installments within the Main Inn. Among the most impressive pieces are an original Norman Rockwell, an antique music box and several large model ships. A poignant tribute to the history of the United States, the Spirit of America painting by Norman Rockwell found its home at the restaurant STARS, right above the mantle and within view of the Chatham Harbor. A depiction of people of various ages, from different backgrounds with a United States flag at their back, this classic Americana painting sets the ambiance for an expertly curated farm-to-table dinner. The South Lounge, located within the Main Inn, comes complete with a roaring fire and an ocean view. One of the room’s favorite attractions, however, is the antique music box, produced by Swiss luxury manufacturer, Lecoultre, around 1869. Consisting of dark-stained wood and gold accents, at first glance, it resembles a lovely piece of furniture, but beneath the lid, you will discover it can play a variety of tunes – everything from opera to folk music. In the lobby, guests enjoy the large model replicas of clipper ships from the 1800s including the Flying Cloud and the American Eagle and the Atlantic. During the winter, the inn hosts local artists on a weekly basis for guests to view their art and interact with the artists. Many guests participate in the resort’s “Picasso and Prosecco” events, a fun opportunity to paint and enjoy some bubbly. Another whimsical bit of outdoor art comes in the form of the unique weathervanes. While strolling the Chatham Bars Inn’s 25 oceanfront acres, guests love to spot the weathervane sculptures, including a fisherman in a boat atop the pool shop, a cod fish above the Beach House Grill, and a tennis racquet weathervane above the tennis shop.
Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel (1915)
The Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel celebrates its history with one eye on its provenance and another focused on the 21st century. Its halls boast a rousing blend of photography, oils, acrylics, and three-dimensional pieces drawing upon the influence of the building’s architecture and the unique attributes of place and time. The resort gallery at the Hillary Tenzing Room was established to share the vision of Mr. Richard Blum, owner/partner of Claremont Club & Spa and founder of the American Himalayan Foundation. It is named after Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the first people to summit Mt. Everest on May 29, 1953. The gallery displays personal artifacts from Mr. Blum’s collection, as well as photography and artwork honoring the people and beauty of the Himalayans. The diverse collection includes photographs, sculpture, ceramics, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, and hand-blown glass. An antique Tibetan door from Kathmandu (artist unknown) represents Tenzing Norgay, who was widely known as the Tiger of the Snows. Photos by Marion Brenner explore the intersection between native wetland plant communities and working agriculture landscapes. Guests and visitors are welcome to explore the collection during their stay.
21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City (1916)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Roaming throughout the 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City building – in the restaurant, art galleries and guestroom floors – is the Purple Penguin sculpture, created by Cracking Art Group. All 21c Museum Hotels have these whimsical penguin sculptures, with a different color for each hotel. These four-foot-tall sculptures, which are made of recycled plastic, move around the art-centric hotel buildings each day and serve as a playful reminder of the importance of sustainability and environmental conservation. Adaptive reuse reigns in a building that was designed in 1916, with an addition added in 1924, by architect Albert Kahn to be a Ford Motor Company assembly plant. Its design gave car manufacturing an open, flexible working space created through a patented system of reinforced concrete frames, floors, and roof. Bays of large windows cover all sides of the façade, allowing light to come in throughout the hotel on each floor. Reimagined as a hotel in 2016, the adaptive reuse of the interior factory space creates loft-like rooms, with tall exposed concrete ceilings, and precise track lighting that pays homage to the building’s industrial heritage. The Elevate at 21c program presents exhibitions of local artists, living and working in the communities surrounding the 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City. Elevate provides hotel guests with unique access to the work of notable regional artists, while featuring their work in the context of the 21c Museum Hotels’ world-class contemporary art collection. Artists create work specifically for these spaces, often in the form of murals or installations. Poet Angie LaPaglia designed a work of art specifically for the space, measuring approximately 30 feet in length, while Denise Duong’s current exhibition includes new work by Duong and Gabriel Friedman. Artists are invited to give talks, readings, participate in social media takeovers, and more, in order to encourage community engagement in new and unusual ways. Like all 21c Museum Hotels, the Oklahoma City hotel’s mission is, in part, to broaden the audience for and appreciation of contemporary art. The hotel also offers guests and the community opportunities to experience music concerts, literary readings, and film screenings.
The Mayflower Hotel Autograph Collection (1925)
Washington, District of Columbia
The Mayflower Hotel Autograph Collection in Washington, D.C., features the work of local District artist Cris Clapp Logan. Logan collaborated with the hotel on several occasions to create original artwork for the hotel, which has hosted Presidential Inaugural Balls, countless weddings, and some of the capital city’s most glamorous galas and parties. The historic city center hotel was founded in 1925 and inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1989, winning a Historic Hotels Award of Excellence in 2016. The eye-catching promenade painting is the hotel’s Logan centerpiece. It shows the richness of the hotel’s history and harkens back to the beautiful people and cultures that have moved through its spaces over the decades. In addition to capturing these moments at the hotel, Logan also worked with the hotel to create colorful room keycards with images of some of the notable guests that it has welcomed since the Roaring Twenties. Key cards feature stylized portraits of figures such as Duke Ellington, Woodrow Wilson, Sophia Loren, and Walt Disney.
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa (1927)
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in partnership with Salon d’Art presents a lobby exhibition: Impressionism to Pop Art: 100 Years of Printmaking (1897-1997). The Fairmont Mission Inn & Spa is in Sonoma, California, and was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2014. The retrospective showcases etchings, lithographs, and pochoirs (stencils) by Renoir, Picasso, Warhol and others. These artists brought an extraordinary level of innovation and expertise to the art of printmaking, making every work in this exhibit a significant contribution to the development of modern art. Their works are now some of the most collected and coveted in history. The exhibition includes The Bather series by Renoir, the Flower series by Warhol and the famous Dove by Picasso. The years between 1897 and 1997 were the most dynamic periods in Western printmaking. During these 100 years, new subjects, styles and techniques helped establish the modern impulse in prints. Guests and aficionados are invited to enjoy self-guided tours of the artwork using Salon d’ Art’s revolutionary beacon technology. This state-of-the-art system uses any IOS mobile device; the viewer can connect instantly and seamlessly to information about the artworks on display. Each beacon will be able to push designated info regarding its related artwork piece directly to a mobile device, allowing the holder to move from artwork/beacon to artwork/beacon and automatically receive the designated info relating to each artwork piece. Guests and locals alike are invited to browse the exhibit while enjoying a signature summer cocktail from the 38 • North Lounge.
La Fonda on the Plaza (1922)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The art collection of La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico, began at the hotel’s inception and has grown considerably over the years. Paintings by the best Pueblo artists were acquired in the historic hotel’s early years, and Sam and Ethel Ballen carried on that tradition followed by Jenny Kimball, all supporting Santa Fe’s famed Indian Market and acquiring work by Native Americans and other artists for the hotel. Not only does original art hang in every guestroom, but every piece has a connection to the people who designed, built, and owned the hotel. Among the artists who contributed is Gerald Cassidy, who painted ten dramatic canvases depicting life in the frontier West, plus a map of the Southwest that still hangs in the New Mexico Room. Paul Lantz painted handsome murals depicting life in a Mexican village, as well as two large tableaux located in the ballroom and another for the stairway leading up to it. Vladan Stiha, a onetime resident of the hotel, painted striking panels of Native America situated in the Mezzanine level overlooking the hotel’s La Plazuela dining room. And nearly every corner of the hotel is graced with the charming hand-painted motifs of Ernest Martinez — most notably the windows in La Plazuela. His whimsical flora, fauna, and Native designs add a folk-art touch to the most surprising places, tying together old and new in a way that is unmistakably La Fonda on the Plaza.
InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel (1926)
San Francisco, California
When the Mark Hopkins opened in 1926 to great fanfare, the hotel’s nine murals by Maynard Dixon and Frank Van Sloun were an instant sensation. Maynard Dixon and Frank Van Sloun, two of California’s most famous Western artists, created the works for the historic hotel’s grand opening on December 3 that year. Today, guests can still visit the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel’s to view the murals. They portray the history of early California in a rich medley of reds, blues, and browns against a background of gold leaf. Each mural is seven feet tall and each offers interpretations of California’s history and cultures:
- The arrival of the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries in mid-18th-century California.
- The Chinese, Eskimo, and Japanese people who lived in north and west California.
- The Aztec and other Indian cultures living south California.
- The American pioneers making the westward trek to California.
- Life in 19th century California under Spanish and Mexican rule.
- The Spanish discovery of California in the early-16th century.
- Calafia, an allegorical virgin queen of an Amazonian tribe, a symbol of an untamed and bountiful California before European settlement.
- Sir Francis Drake’s landing in California in 1579.
- Discovery of the West by American trappers and traders after the Revolutionary War.
Today, guests at the intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel – inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2011 and winner of the 2021 Historic Hotels of America Historic Restaurant of the Year Award – can find this incredible art in the Room of the Dons. The Room of the Dons and its paintings continue to delight the generations of San Franciscans and guests.
Lord Baltimore Hotel (1928)
The Lord Baltimore Hotel’s contemporary art collection was curated by owners Mera and Don Rubell, who are partners in the Rubell Family Hotels Company that purchased the Baltimore hotel in 2013. The Rubell family is known for being art collectors first, hoteliers second: The Rubell Museum in Miami Florida is one of the biggest private contemporary art collections in North America. in 2018, the hotel launched an art exhibition series called “In Good Taste” at its LB Bakery & Bistro which feature the work of a different local artist each quarter. To date, the hotel has hosted seven exhibitions of local artists. Examples of art found throughout the hotel are abstract paintings by Herbert Hamak (lobby and the mezzanine), Untitled Film Stills (2006) by Polish artist Aneta Grzeszykowska (in the Lord Baltimore Tavern), and a Suzan Etkin multimedia piece that is on display in the hotel fitness center. The hotel’s hallways are lined with a series inspired by Google Images and iconic people and places linked to Baltimore. “Google Inspired Portraits of Famous Baltimore People and Places, 2013” includes fifteen unique prints in an edition of 1500 from the Rubell Family Collection Design Team. As Mera Rubell said in an interview for the Baltimore Sun in 2017, “Art is not just for museums and galleries. It’s a catalyst for dialogue and makes for interesting conversations. At the Lord Baltimore, we share art with our guests as a way to inspire those conversations and create transformational experiences.”
Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort (1929)
Surrounded by the stunning Santa Catalina Mountain Range, Tuscon, Arizonia’s Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort adds man-made visual and intellectual stimulation with a beautiful collection of art throughout the grounds. The collection was curated by Jeff Timan (Director of Gardening & Art, as well as a Resort Partner) and his wife, along with Gift Shop Manager Robyn Kessler, and it features artists such as Rigsby Frederick, Steven Derks, Carlos Carulo, and Lou Pearson. Many pieces – recognizable by the medium of welded steel and an abstract nature – were created by Timan himself. Guests are invited to stroll through the grounds and enjoy over 100 pieces of artwork installed throughout the 34-acre resort. The most distinctive pieces are two original sculptures by the late Lou Pearson and one by Carlos Carulo. Lou Pearson is one of the early contemporary artists who, in the post war years, helped shape the San Francisco Bay Area aesthetic through the design of terraced retaining walls, which curved to create garden pockets. Many of these walls are still standing today. His work in steel sculpture captures that same signature curving and flowing. Another early contemporary artist featured at the resort is Carlos Carulo, born in Chile and now residing in Santa Fe. Carulo found a prominent place in the resort’s gardens for his sculpture The Bull, which is placed so that it appears to protect the Terraza Garden Patio, the open-air casual restaurant. Carulo refers to his work as Situationalism, always changing based on the current emotional situation of life but reflecting the influences of Picasso’s cubism and Kandinsky’s improvisations. Currently artists are welcome and encouraged to paint paintings of the grounds or find inspiration amongst the unique architecture and beautiful garden landscape. Across Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, guests can find sculptures, paintings, pottery, photography, and tilework perfectly accenting and enhancing the natural landscape of the Sonoran Desert and culture of the Southwest. The art on display is often inspired by the culture of the Southwest region, many pieces exhibiting traces of Native American and Mexican influences as well as more modern contemporary work from celebrated artists. Tours of the hotel art collection are available for groups and guests upon request.
The Wort Hotel (1941)
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The Wort Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, displays over 175 pieces of original contemporary and traditional Western themed art, valued at over $1.2 million. The collection is defined by its sculptured bronze works, acrylics, and oil paintings. The Wort Hotel is especially proud of its Hand Carved Wood Western Themed Doors, which are attached to 8 guestrooms. Art is around every corner at The Wort Hotel. Notably, it contains the largest collection of Ray McCarty pieces, 50 total. Highlights from the collection include 13 original Lyle Waggoner sculptures, 50 Ray Mcarty paintings, and 12 illustrations by John Clymer. The hotel also has works by Gerry Metz and Joe Velazquez. Art collector and The Wort Hotel’s owner Bill Baxter says of the collection, “From our standpoint, this is a tribute to the importance and history of The Wort Hotel, that we connect it authentically with the West and the experience of the cowboy and cowgirl and the American Indian and the landscape...it just seemed appropriate to us to amplify those connections with beautiful, original Western art.” The artwork is spread throughout the hotel, in public spaces, the bar and restaurant as well as select guestrooms. The rooms have original artwork as well as custom furnishings and bedding, in accordance with the room’s theme. Additionally, the Ray McCarty artwork ties into the hotel’s gambling history. The hotel features a self-guided walking tour with photos and descriptions of key pieces of art. A brochure provides an overview of the artists as well as the names of each piece featured at the hotel. This is a free tour available to anyone who stops into the hotel to have a look.
The Statler (1956)
The Statler is a midcentury modern Dallas, Texas, landmark with an art collection valued at more than $1.3 million. The collection includes sculpture, a panoramic mural, and photographs by artists including Jack Lubin and Brad Oldham. Guests and the public are invited to view the art throughout the hotel. One example of the hotel’s public-facing art is A Wishing Star by Jose de Rivera. Made of stainless-steel triangulated arms with gold-plated tops,12 feet high and 15 feet across, it was placed in the outdoor patio above street-level along St. Paul Street. Removed in 1988, it was later found in the possession of a former bellman, who donated it back to The Statler when Centurion American purchased the hotel in 2013. Restored by famed restoration artist Michael Van Enter, it was placed back in its original space. It now rotates from within a water feature. Another lost-and-found piece is a painting by Jack Lubin that was once displayed on the wall in the former Empire Room. It was covered up in 1988 but rediscovered in 2013, professionally restored, and carefully transferred to the lobby area behind the front desk. On the 19th floor rooftop pool is Llinda Llee Llama, a sculpture by Brad Oldham, which pays homage to the real-life Llinda Llee who enjoyed being paraded around the streets of Dallas, riding in limos, and visiting sick children in the late 50s and 1960s. She is The Statler’s Brand Ambassador and has been an ongoing, iconic part of the hotel’s style and art integrations. Miniature replica statues can be found in each guestroom. The Statler’s art collection is noteworthy because much of it was original to the hotel but lost when the hotel was sold in 1988, only to be rediscovered in 2013 when new ownership came in. The Statler went to great lengths to restore the artwork in the 2010s and guests at the hotel today can enjoy works of art that were almost lost forever.
Hotel Captain Cook (1965)
Upon arrival at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska, guests and patrons alike are greeted by inviting and historical décor illustrating the voyages of British explorer and cartographer Captain James Cook. Three of these major voyages took him around the southern tips of Africa and South America, to Easter Island and, on his final voyage, along Alaska’s majestic coastline. In June of 1778, while looking for a northwest passage to Hudson Bay, he and his crew on the HMS Resolution dropped anchor in Turnagain Arm, right within sight of the spot where the Hotel Captain Cook stands today. A much sought-after experience for both the art enthusiast and the novice art lover, the Hotel Captain Cook offers walking tours of their expansive private art collection. Featuring paintings, drawings, and sculptures of subjects like historical sailing ships, Indigenous people and depictions of the captain’s excursions, the hotel’s art collection provides guests with a glimpse into the adventures of Captain James Cook. In addition to the hotel’s architecture itself, unique art pieces like stained glass, paintings, woodwork, and sculpture continue to tell this story with inspired detail. Pieces of the collection can be viewed in common areas and are also prominently featured in well-appointed dining spaces, lining pristine hallways, and in other perceptible instances throughout the hotel.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (1965)
Hawaii Island, Hawaii
Many “firsts” are acknowledged when referencing Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Island of Hawaii; first resort on Hawaii Island (1965), first golf course on the island (1964), first (and only) hotel in Hawaii developed by Laurance S. Rockefeller and first (and only) hotel in Hawaii with awards from the American Institute of Architects, (1967 and 2007). But what is often overlooked is that this magnificent beachfront beauty was also the first hotel to completely and meticulously incorporate authentic works of arts and native crafts into its design ethos. Rockefeller’s handpicked team of experts scoured Pacific Rim countries, Melanesia, Asia and Polynesia. They returned with wooden carvings from New Zealand and adorned shields from Guinea, gold-gilded prayer disciples from Thailand, ornate Japanese tansu chests and bronze Indian dowry chests, and a larger-than-life 12th-century pink granite Buddha Shakyamuni, the collection’s most notable, and noticeable, piece. The much-heralded art collection includes quilts of Hawaii, each with more than one million stitches, and beautifully pounded and dyed Hawaiian kapa, or barkcloth. Honoring Rockefeller’s vision that art should bridge cultures and broaden understanding, the pieces are still displayed as in 1965, in a manner that encourages self-discovery. Visitors wishing to learn more are welcome to join a complimentary art tour each Saturday morning. To learn from afar, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s podcast allows visitors to delve more deeply into the collection’s fascinating history and its priceless pieces.
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