21c Museum Hotels debuts in Nashville

21c Museum Hotels opened its seventh property in Nashville. 21c rehabilitated the historic Gray & Dudley Building in downtown Nashville near Printer’s Alley. Located at 221 2nd Avenue North, 21c Museum Hotel Nashville offers 10,500 square feet of contemporary art exhibition space open free of charge to the public, a 124-room boutique hotel and the locally-inspired Gray & Dudley restaurant helmed by chef Levon Wallace.  

“We have had our sights set on Nashville for quite some time, and are excited to bring 21c to Music City,” Steve Wilson, founder and CEO of 21c Museum Hotels, said in a statement.  “With such a robust and exciting art and music scene, we felt the destination matched perfectly with our brand ethos, and we look forward to contributing to the area’s thriving cultural landscape.”

21c was founded by contemporary art collectors and preservationists Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson. 21c Nashville presents rotating solo and group exhibitions, site-specific installations and a full roster of cultural programming curated by museum director and chief curator Alice Gray Stites. In the 11 years since its founding, 21c Museum Hotels has commissioned more than 50 site-specific projects.

New, site-specific installations are among the major works by an international roster of artists that will be on view at 21c Nashville. Commissioned by 21c Museum Hotels, the multimedia works will be installed throughout the public and private spaces of the hotel, drawing on themes as diverse as technology, pop culture and the environment. The series of site-specific works includes electronic artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Bilateral Time Slicer Intermix, 2017, which uses facial recognition software to record an image of each viewer who passes by a screen. The image is then cut in half and spliced with images of other visitors, in a shifting kaleidoscope of hybrid portraits, which will also appear on screens in the public restrooms.

21c Nashville will also have a rotating schedule of curated exhibitions. On view until January 2018, the inaugural exhibition, Truth or Dare: A Reality Show, includes painting, sculpture, photography, video, digital animation and installations by more than 24 artists that layer fiction with fact, narrating both the complexity and the necessity for seeking and speaking the truth. Truth or Dare will include works by Leo Villareal, Shahzia Sikander, Serkan Özkaya and Richard Mosse, among others.

21c will continue engaging with the local community through its ongoing initiative, Elevate 21c, an exhibition program that showcases works by local artists. The installations will change periodically, offering opportunities for a wide range of artists to share their work with a visiting audience. The Elevate program was introduced at 21c Cincinnati in 2012, and runs throughout the seven locations of 21c’s multi-venue museum.

Design and architecture firm Deborah Berke Partners reimagined the historic Gray & Dudley Building as 21c Nashville, preserving the building’s historic elements while creating a versatile platform for exhibiting contemporary art.  

Erected in 1900, the building’s first life was as a former wholesale hardware company, the Gray & Dudley Hardware Co. Situated between 2nd and 3rd Avenues and flanked by Bank Alley, the Chicago Style building has large arched windows, an articulated masonry façade with terra cotta accents and a prominent cornice at the roofline. 

21c Nashville is Deborah Berke Partners' seventh collaboration with the 21c Museum Hotels team and its fourth collaboration with Pittsburgh-based executive architect, Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff and Goettel.

Nashville-based contractor R.C. Mathews Company served as the construction manager for 21c Nashville.