The border between highbrow and lowbrow art no longer requires a passport. The border itself has all but disappeared. The gatekeepers, those esteemed curators hidden in the bowels of museums who only talked to other curators, along with distinguished art critics who could make or break an artists career with a few esoteric paragraphs have morphed into the concierge at the hotel's front desk whose main job is to help you, the guest, feel comfortable. You can't sleep or take a shower in a museum, but you can in a hotel that surrounds you with museum quality art.
Until recently, most hotel architects and planners brought in art at the last minute as a decorative element, usually left up to interior designers and selected to complement the drapes and carpet. But the last decade has seen an increased interest in hotels as a new public sphere for engaging with art, outside the rarified museum and gallery worlds. The art concept hotel was born, melding public space with aesthetic experience, intellectual challenge, and the power of art to ‘shock and awe.’ A cursory search brought over sixty international hotels, each with a unique focus on fine art. A selection of nine worth noting are previewed here.