21c Museum Hotel: Catalyst for a Metro Rennaissance

21c Museum Hotel: Catalyst for a Metro Rennaissance

Located in downtown OKC, the 21c Hotel Museum provides travelers and natives alike with a new experience of art and comfort. (photo provided by 21c Hotel Museum.)

Local art is becoming a huge influence around the metro, and businesses are diving head-first into this artistic integration. Downtown Oklahoma City is experiencing a cultural renaissance, and 21c Museum Hotel is the catalyst.

On June 7, 21c Museum Hotel opened its doors at the Fred Jones Building on W. Main Street in downtown Oklahoma City. Since its opening, the hotel has caused quite a buzz.

The concept of 21c Museum Hotel is a game-changer for Oklahoma City. As its name suggests, 21c isn’t just a hotel; it’s an art museum. 

Hotel general manager and UCO Alum, Matt Cowden said, “21c stands for 21st century art. We are first and foremost a contemporary art museum that just happens to have an amazing restaurant and hotel.”

The idea behind 21c started ten years ago when founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson opened their first museum-hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. Their main focus was to use contemporary and modern art to revitalize a once-bustling area.

With that goal in mind, 21c made its way to Oklahoma City.

“There’s a renaissance that’s happening here in western downtown Oklahoma City and the historic Film Row District. We are really the catalyst for more development that’s going to be happening in the coming months and years in this area,” Cowden said. “It’s a very exciting time, so we’re looking forward to be a part of that growth.”

The hotel has successfully modernized a piece of Oklahoma History. The Fred Jones Building, which was once Oklahoma City’s Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant in the early 1900s, was renovated and revitalized to create 21c Museum Hotel.

While renovating the historic building, 21c made a point to keep the structure true to itself. They also allowed for the building to be their main inspiration when choosing their art, which makes that collection specific to Oklahoma City.

The contemporary style allows visitors to engage directly with some of the pieces. Each hotel has a video gallery where guests can experience art in the form of video—but with a twist.


Guests might also notice large purple penguins hanging out throughout the museum and hotel. Each 21c Museum Hotel has its own flock of 25 penguins that are color specific to the museum’s location. In this case, Oklahoma City’s flock color is purple.

Visitors are encouraged to move the penguins around, and some guests even take them into their hotel rooms.

The museum is open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year. The best part: It’s absolutely free. This means that visitors wanting to experience the museum don’t have to be checked into the hotel. Anyone and everyone is welcome to be a part of this new experience.

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