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Canada: Is a hotel a crash pad? Yes, and much more, exhibition says

April 17, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • A luggage sticker from Toyko's Imperial Hotel evokes a bygone era in a broad-ranging exhibition about hotels at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Canada.
A luggage sticker from Toyko's Imperial Hotel evokes a bygone era… (Rachel Topham / Vancouver…)

A hotel is more than just a place to lay your head down. If you don't believe it, check out a fascinating new show at the Canada's Vancouver Art Gallery convincingly argues that hotels are far more than just bricks and mortar.

The gallery’s newest exhibition is Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life, which is described in a news release as “a ground-breaking exhibition exploring the impact of the hotel as one of the pre-eminent architectural and social structures of our time.”

The exhibit, which runs through Sept. 15, was six years in the making and covers two floors. It explores the physical and psychological aspects of these edifices using four key themes: culture, design, social and travel.

Design, of course, is at a hotel’s core. The exhibition explores the attention to detail in some of the world’s most iconic properties.

In the curators’ eyes, the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen is preeminent. Its designer, Arne Jacobsen, oversaw every element of the Danish property, from the eccentric cutlery to the sleek modern exterior.

Other hotels featured for their innovative design include the Flamingo in Las Vegas, Waldorf Astoria in New York, and Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles.

“This exhibition offers the idea of the hotel as a complex, multifaceted form produced by diverse forces within modern culture and convincingly demonstrates that the hotel itself has played a pivotal role in the redesigning of modern life,” senior curator Bruce Grenville said in a written statement.

“Today the hotel still maintains its status as a testing ground for social change, providing a space where conventions of gender, race and class can be willfully tested, reconfigured or abandoned, seemingly without penalty.”

The Vancouver Art Gallery (750 Hornby St., [604] 662-4719) is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and until 9 p.m. Tuesdays. Admission is about $16.75  for adults, $12 for seniors (65 and older) and students, and $6 for children 5 and older.

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