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21c Museum Hotel to Open New Property in Downtown Bentonville, Arkansas
Steve Wilson poses at 21c Museum Hotel, in Louisville, Ky. Wilson developed and owns 21c with his wife Laura Lee Brown, a descendant of the founder of Louisville-based liquor giant Brown-Forman Corp. Wilson stands next to an untitled work by American artist Rob de Mar made of mixed media, felt and iron. AP Photo/Brian Bohannon.

BENTONVILLE, ARK.- 21c Museum Hotels will build a new combination boutique hotel and contemporary art museum in downtown Bentonville, announced Steve Wilson, Founder and Chairman of 21c Museum Hotels. The new hotel is being developed by 21c Museum Hotels and will be modeled on the award-winning 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, which was voted the #1 hotel in the U.S. and #6 in the world in the Condé Nast Traveler’s 2009 Readers’ Choice awards. The estimated cost of the project is $28 million and is anticipated to open in 2012. Investors in the project include a Walton family partnership and Bentonville Revitalization, Inc.

Wilson and his wife Laura Lee Brown are philanthropists and arts patrons and founded the flagship property in Louisville in 2006, with the vision of supporting the continued revitalization of downtown Louisville. The critical acclaim and financial success of 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville have demonstrated the power of that vision, and Brown and Wilson have brought an important new cultural resource and economic engine to the community. Members of the Walton family are committed to a similar vision for their hometown: to support the renewal of downtown Bentonville, and to create a hub for culture, entertainment and outdoor activities in the city.

“21c Museum Hotel is about bringing people together with art and each other in new ways,” said Mr. Wilson. “It’s our philosophy to provide an exciting cultural experience to travelers and community residents alike. We are excited to establish a new 21c Museum Hotel as a creative, educational and civic resource for the people of Northwest Arkansas.”

Originally, Brown and Wilson didn’t envision expanding outside of Louisville. But since the opening of 21c in 2006, they have been regularly contacted by people interested in adding to the existing arts and cultural life in their region through the development of a 21c Museum Hotel.

“The growth of 21c Museum Hotels is something that has happened organically,” says Michael Bonadies, President and CEO of 21c Museum Hotels. “Its success has surpassed our expectations. As a hub of global commerce and a rapidly emerging arts and entertainment destination, Bentonville is the perfect place for a 21c Museum Hotel. We are excited to be part of the team that is making the Bentonville area an even better place to visit, live, work and play.”

"The best days for Bentonville and its downtown are yet to come," said Mayor Bob McCaslin. "Today's announcement only increases the excitement that already exists around the future opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. This prestigious facility will help complete the transformation of Bentonville into a world renowned destination."

Since its opening in 2006, 21c Museum in Louisville has organized nearly 30 exhibitions and projects that range from exhibitions of internationally acclaimed artists to installations by students at local universities. Recent exhibitions it has organized include: Creating Identity: Portraiture Today; All’s Fair in Art and War: Envisioning Conflict; Tangled Up in You: Connecting, Coexisting, and Conceiving Identity; and Hybridity: The Evolution of Species and Spaces in 21st-Century Art. The Museum permanently displays a number of site-specific commissions and presents traveling exhibitions. 21c Museum offers a range of arts programming, including dance and musical performances, talks by artists and architects, film screenings, poetry readings, and workshops. The 21c in Bentonville, like the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, will be woven into the fabric of downtown and will present special exhibitions, dynamic installations, and live art events. Exhibition space will be open to the public free of charge 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, currently under construction, will be located approximately one third of a mile from 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Bentonville. Other projects in the downtown area include:

• a major expansion and re-development of the Walmart Visitor Center;

• Lawrence Plaza ice arena and splash park;

• expanding network of pedestrian and biking trails;

• several infrastructure projects including two new parking areas and section improvements to streets.

21c Museum Hotel will be located on the northeast corner of the Bentonville town square within walking distance of both the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the worldwide headquarters of Walmart. It will feature more than 12,000 square feet of exhibition, meeting and event space, and an affordable restaurant that supports sustainable agriculture and serves contemporary cuisine showcasing locally grown and produced ingredients. The project will bring an estimated 160 new permanent full-time jobs to the area.

Design Architect Deborah Berke & Partners, the architect for the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, will design a new structure for 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville. Little Rock-based firm Polk Stanly Wilcox will be the executive architect. Louisville-based Poe Companies is a co-developer with 21c Museum Hotels on this project. The property in Bentonville will be designed, constructed, and operated incorporating green practices and using sustainable materials.

Deborah Berke & Partners other projects have included the Yale School of Art & New Theater, the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York and the James Hotels in Chicago and Scottsdale. Deborah Berke & Partners won two 2009 Design Awards from AIA New York State and was a finalist for the 2008 National Design Award for Interior Design, which is given by the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper Hewitt Museum for exceptional and exemplary work in domestic, corporate, cultural interior design.

21c Museum Hotels | Bentonville | Steve Wilson |

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