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Meet the Newest Penguin in Our Flock

21c Museum Hotel Nashville will open later this spring and will be home to a flock of limited edition Teal Penguin sculptures by Italian artist collective Cracking Art Group. As the opening approaches, a “penguin spotted” contest will be held from Tuesday, April 4 to Monday, April 17 during which the Teal Penguin will appear at popular locations in and around downtown.

“For 21c Nashville, the artists of Cracking Art Group have created a penguin that embodies the vibrancy and creativity of this dynamic and diverse city: the Teal Penguin. Described as a mixture of blue and green hues, teal is associated with both serenity and strength, calmness and clarity – an invigorated, inspired state of mind that may follow an experience of discovery and connection,” said Alice Gray Stites, Chief Curator Museum Director, 21c Museum.

“At 21c Nashville, the teal flock will greet visitors throughout the building, where the penguins’ color will appear to change in different spaces and at different times of day. As teal spans a spectrum of blue/green hues, 21c’s Nashville ambassadors will reflect the spirit of openness, innovation, and engagement that has transformed this 1900 building in the heart of downtown into a center for contemporary culture and hospitality.”

In celebration of the flock’s arrival, 21c Nashville will launch a social media contest that invites fans to spot the Teal Penguin for a chance to win prizes. Beginning on Tuesday, April 4 the “Penguin Spotted” contest will highlight one photo each day for 14 days of the penguin at a unique landmark around the city. Fans can guess the location by emailing, where they will be entered into a daily drawing to win a t-shirt and a grand prize drawing for a gift certificate to stay at 21c Nashville once it opens. Photos will post daily on the 21c Nashville website (, Facebook page ( and on Twitter (@21cNashville).

Cracking Art Group’s Red Penguin sculptures were first exhibited at 21c Louisville in 2006. 21c founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson purchased the sculptures after seeing them perched around the city at the 2005 Venice Biennale as part of a public art project. The penguins were so popular with visitors to 21c that they have remained on permanent exhibition.

“The public really chose the penguins,” says Wilson. “They were part of our opening exhibition in Louisville and people couldn’t help but interact with them. They would move them around, take photos with them, take them to dinner and to their rooms. They have really become an icon, and emblematic of our mission to make thought provoking contemporary art more accessible to the public.”

The mission of Cracking Art Group is to raise awareness of environmental issues and the use and misuse of natural resources by creating artworks with materials derived from petroleum products. The name Cracking Art refers to the chemical reaction that occurs when converting raw crude oil into plastic, or the moment when natural becomes artificial. Founded in 1993, Cracking Art Group has created over 600 exhibitions worldwide. Each 21c Museum Hotel has its own flock of colored penguins.

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