2022 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Art Collections
WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#art–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) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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) Louisville, Kentucky
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) Chicago, Illinois
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) Riverside, California
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) Lancaster, Pennsylvania
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, hotel 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) Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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) Boston, Massachusetts
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) Cincinnati, Ohio
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) Chatham, Massachusetts
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) Berkeley, California
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.
Historic Hotels of America │ Historic Hotels Worldwide
Manager, Marketing Communications