To express its ongoing commitment to arts and culture, and to elevate the guest experience, the Conrad Indianapolis offers its visitors a luxury art experience in a hospitality setting. In the fall of 2011, the property took its arts program to a new level when it partnered with Indianapolis-based ModernMasters Fine Art to create “A Fine Art Experience at The Conrad.”
“We were looking for a broker that had an incredible desire to show work outside of the museum experience,” says General Manager Greg Tinsley.
Aside from positioning the hotel as a destination for locals and guests to view fine art, the program allows Conrad employees to gain exposure to museum-quality pieces at work each day. “That became a bonus for us and something that is a retention tool internally,” Tinsley says. From a business perspective, the program has also been beneficial for the hotel and exposes people to the property’s other attractions, such as its wine bar, restaurant, spa, and salon.
MMFA Owner Rhonda Long-Sharp provides ongoing art education for the Conrad staff and has trained more than 75 front-of-house employees on the basics of fine art in the hotel. Tinsley and more than a dozen employees with a genuine interest in art have been educated as specialized Art Ambassadors who can assist visitors with questions about the works on view or give walking tours.
Since the program’s inception, ModernMasters has curated a series of exhibits in the hotel’s public spaces on the first and second floors. The Conrad and ModernMasters also present frequent art events to excite art enthusiasts, collectors, and anyone else who is interested in expanding their knowledge and appreciation of art. “It’s a tradition for us to host receptions for artists to bring them closer to the community so we can drive as much exposure for them,” Tinsley says.
In 2011, these community events included receptions for local artists Constance Edwards Scopelitis and Walter Knabe, the unveiling of the Indianapolis host city Super Bowl poster, and “Mimosas with Marilyns,” which featured a Marilyn Monroe film and artwork that paid homage to the late actress.
This year kicked off with the exhibit “A Toast to Pop Art” in the hotel lobby, which will remain on view through May. It features works by big names in Pop Art, including Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana (an Indiana native), Keith Haring, and Roy Lichtenstein. Upcoming events include an artist reception for local artist Lois Main Templeton. Tinsley says he wanted to ensure that the program emphasized regional masters or artists with ties to Indianapolis in order to connect back to the community. The Conrad recently added a fourth local artist, Dale Enochs, who has two sculptures on view in the lobby.
Fine art photographer William John Kennedy’s recently published archive of negatives from 1963 to 1964, when he befriended and photographed rising stars Warhol and Indiana, will be on view during the traveling exhibit “Behind the Lens of William John Kennedy” April 27 and 28.
Suites have an in-room art channel so guests can watch film clips about the featured artists, and all artworks are accompanied by QR codes that link to featured artists’ biographies and bodies of work. Tours also are facilitated with detailed reading materials and interactive reader boards in public areas.
“It’s gone far beyond what our expectations were,” Tinsley says of the Art Experience. “It’s really starting to pick up now.”