Hospitality meets art: the rise of the hotel gallery

Art is so accessible nowadays.

This can only be a good thing, right?

Our relationship with art and design is changing: widespread internet access has given makers and creators from a range of backgrounds a platform for expression, and there’s no doubt that it’s helping to level the playing field when it comes to exposure and representation.

Yet there’s also a fear among some Millennials that art and design is becoming increasingly homogenised and commercialised. As a result, we’re yearning for something that’s not necessarily unique, but authentic and true to itself. A return to the real and the local, and the desire to discover something that hasn’t been seen before.

Hotels as galleries

In response to traveller’s longing for a return to the ‘local’ when it comes to art and design, a number of hotels around the world are teaming up with nearby galleries and museums to showcase local artists’ work in immersive ways. Previously, hotels such as the Dolder Grand would tend to showcase beautiful and enviable artworks but there was limited interactions offered to their customers.

"My favourite hotel in this category in The Thief in Oslo. It has a wonderful collection of contemporary art that compliments the collection at the Astrup-Fearnley museum opposite."

- Patrick Saich, Director at Christie’s

In addition to The Thief – a ‘lifestyle boutique’ hotel that has forged a relationship with a local gallery  – there are many others doing the same, particularly across Europe.

“I personally like to see art that has a connection to the city or country you are visiting, either etchings or photographs of native scenes or works by local artists.”

- Patrick Saich, Director at Christie’s

citizenM Bowery Hotel, New York City

CitizenM’s Bowery Hotel is is embellished with a mixture of hi-lo art – kitsch artefacts and metropolitan artworks. They involved the community with an ongoing art project and the exterior wall displays the work of graffiti artist Meres One, founder of 5Pointz, OTM Aerosol Art Collective and contributor to MoSA.

The House Collective, China

On top of the fascinating static collection of artworks from leading contemporary Asian artists in a variety of mediums, from sculptures and ceramics to marble and bronze works, The House Collective has launched a multi-tiered art programme. They have their eyes set on the bigger picture as they aim to create programming over the long-run which explores the theme of cross-cultural connections, hence the programme name ‘Encounters Across Cultures’.

The House Collective invite one major visiting artist each year to create a dynamic, travelling exhibition (to each of the four properties) that changes depending on the local city, architecture and exhibition, this year it is Katja Loher, and then host localised more permanent exhibitions too. The aim is to make each exhibition as experiential and immersive as possible, and that’s why they chose Loher who works in video sculpture.

The Peninsula Hotels, Global

With hotels in some of the world’s most exciting and innovative cities, this group is working alongside two eminent curators to commission work from artists who are pushing the boundaries of their mediums. Projects include a travelling gallery and a zen-inspired private dining experience.

Silo Hotel, Cape Town

Sitting atop the Zeitz MOCAA, the largest contemporary museum of African art, Silo Hotel literally couldn’t get any closer to the city’s art scene. The hotel is viewed by many as an embodiment of art, style, architecture and design; guests can enjoy a guided tour of the museum below which houses Africa’s largest collection of contemporary African art.

21c Museum Hotel, USA

Founded by two contemporary art collectors and preservationists, 21c Museum Hotels blend museum, hotel and restaurant space to create a hybrid experience. Their spaces enable guests to consume global culture while connecting with local communities.

“The brand is fast becoming one of the important ambassadors of contemporary what many New Yokers and Angelinos deride as ‘flyover country’.”

Surface, 21c Museum Hotels website

Immersive experiences

In a bid to provide guests with a sensorial experience, hotels are implementing immersive artworks into their spaces to engage travellers in unexpected ways through light, colour, moving image, sound and a multitude of other digital mediums.

“I have been seeing a lot of powerful single visual moments in hospitality settings...the Jiyu Spa in Shanghai by Hip-pop design is a cinematic experience. The spa is set up as a series of vignettes, similar to a screenplay. Each step leads you further into the storyline, immersing you into a new world while making you wonder what’s next.”

-- Sushir Kadidal, Yabu Pushelberg New York Design Director

Showcasing local artistic talent in an engaging, and if possible interactive way, is more important than ever as travellers seek out authentic experiences and interactions, both online and offline