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Check-In at These Midwest Hotels Where Art Takes Center Stage

by Kate Mothes

A sculpture of a white bird in front of a richly colored backdrop.
Photo Credit: 21C Museum Hotels
An installation by Ebony G. Patterson at a 21C Museum Hotel.

From galleries to historic paint factories, these hotels bring creativity to hospitality and showcase local artists.

Art collections are often as eclectic and wide-ranging as the artists they comprise—and the collectors themselves. Often, though, private collections remain out of the public eye, locked behind closed doors until they are bequeathed to a museum or go up for auction. Unless, that is, they go on exhibit in the kind of place that invites you to not only visit but spend the night!

A slew of boutique hotels across the Midwest celebrates art’s power to create memorable travel experiences. A new generation of collectors are discovering exciting ways to merge contemporary art and hospitality, and a stay at any of these 10 hotels will inspire creativity as much as a good night’s sleep.

A brightly-lit hotel lobby with beige curtains and a gallery entrance.
Photo Credit: 21C Museum Hotels
A distinct series in the 21C Museum Hotels collection is the colorful four-foot plastic penguins that pops up in spaces at all of their eight locations.

21C Hotel, Chicago and Cincinnati

With a flagship hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, architectural preservationists and art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson wanted to take an active role in downtown revitalization while at the same time celebrating how vital art can be to daily life. 21C Museum Hotels began as an idea for one hotel and evolved into a family of eight, including Cincinnati, Chicago, and the newest location in St. Louis. Whether a guest or not, visitors can wander the hotel’s galleries any time of day—and interact with the growing flock of colorful four-foot plastic penguins

If you’re perusing arty places to snooze in Chicago, take a peek at The Blackstone, too.


Two people standing in front of a wall of framed paintings deep in conversation.
Photo Credit: Nagel Media Co. / Saint Kate Arts Hotel
Guests view “From the Void, 15 works from a series of 101” by Nirmal Raja, a piece in Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel’s permanent art collection.

Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel, Milwaukee

Every aspect of Saint Kate in Milwaukee’s Theater District is inspired by painting, music, sculpture, and design. Public exhibition areas present work by artists based locally and further afield, and four spaces designated as “The Canvas” invite guests to immerse themselves in a floor-to-ceiling artworks, with proceeds from each stay benefiting local and Wisconsin-wide arts initiatives. Every room includes work by local artists, a record player, and a ukulele!

If you’re looking for a historic place to crash in Milwaukee, you might also want to check out The Pfister, which has been operating since 1893 and hosting artists-in-residence since 2009.

A gallery space featuring several colorful framed works of art hung on the walls.
Photo Credit: Long-Sharp Gallery
A Long-Sharp Gallery-curated space at The Conrad Indianapolis featuring works of Nicole Pietrantoni, Rose Electra Harris, and Tamar Kander.

The Conrad, Indianapolis

Part hotel and part gallery, The Conrad has a permanent collection and a commercial gallery—curated by local Long-Sharp Gallery—featuring rotating shows. The public spaces on the entire second floor are dedicated to pieces made by Indiana artists, and you can even book a guided tour of current exhibitions with one of the hotel’s Art Ambassadors. Feeling more Surrealist or Pop? You can also book a room based on your favorite artistic movements.

Headed to Indianapolis? Another spot you might like is The Alexander, a “haven of art” in the downtown CityWay area.

More to Check Out

A historic experience awaits at Hotel Indigo in Madison, Wisconsin, a contemporary hotel in the former Mautz Paint factory. Quotes and images from 20th-century painting legend Georgia O’Keeffe—who grew up in neighboring Sun Prairie—illuminate installations in the lobby and hallways.

Book a room to match how you feel at Angad Arts Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, where four different color options for passion, rejuvenation, happiness, and tranquility complement a robust program of art exhibition and events.

Headed to Michigan? Birmingham might be the spot, where the Daxton Hotel offers accommodations chock full of art along with collaborative art-fueled events with the local community.

A hotel lobby with a reception desk with paint cans in a display case and a large paint can display reading "Mautz Paint."
Photo Credit: Nick Beard / Hotel Indigo
The front desk at Hotel Indigo in Madison, Wisconsin, pays tribute to the building’s past as the Mautz Paint factory.