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21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City will be Home to Flock of Purple Penguins


In an unveiling ceremony earlier today, 21c Museum Hotel announced that a flock of limited edition Purple Penguin sculptures by Italian artist collective Cracking Art Group will make its way to the new 21c Museum Hotel in Oklahoma City, set to open early this summer.

“For 21c OKC, we challenged Cracking Art Group to expand their color palette, so that we could select one inspired by 21c’s dedication to innovation and transformation. As always, the artists exceeded expectations and presented a range of dazzling hues. One stood out: purple,” said Alice Gray Stites, Museum Director and Chief Curator of 21c Museum Hotels.

“Historically, purple has been associated with royalty, because it is so hard to find in nature–the only organic source is a particular type of snail. But in 1856, a young British chemist named Henry William Perkins accidentally synthesized aniline dyes, creating purple dye. He obtained a patent for manufacturing the dye, and built a highly successful business making his discovery accessible to manufacturers and artists worldwide. Innovative technology is embedded in this site, and today a 21st century vision of progress is transforming this former plant into a multi use cultural center. We think the purple penguin is an articulate ambassador for the spirit of discovery, ingenuity, and community that 21c strives to nurture in the creative heart of OKC.”

21c comprises a boutique hotel, a contemporary art museum and Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge, a restaurant led by executive chef Jason Campbell. In conjunction with the announcement, 21c is launching a contest on Instagram that invites fans to spot the penguin or its color around the city, and on the popular photo-sharing social media outlet.

With the help of local partners, the contest launches on Wednesday, May 11. Fans are encouraged to be on the lookout for Banksy, Christo and Turrell-inspired art around the city, to follow @21cHotels on Instagram, or use the hashtag #21cPurplePenguin on their own posts, to be entered to win a one night stay at the city’s newest hotel. (View the Official Rules)


Cracking Art Group’s Red Penguin sculptures were first exhibited at 21c Louisville in 2006. Brown and 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 new 21c Museum Hotel will have its own flock of penguins.


21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City, opening summer 2016, is a combination boutique hotel, contemporary art museum and chef-driven restaurant. Building on its mission of engaging the public with contemporary art and supporting the revitalization of American downtowns, 21c is rehabilitating the historic Fred Jones Assembly Plant, located on the western edge of Oklahoma City’s Film Row. The 135-room property will feature a contemporary art museum open to the public free of charge 7 days a week and offering curated exhibitions, interactive site specific installations, a full roster of cultural programming, and Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge.


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