Contemporary art will surround guests at The Alexander, a boutique hotel set to open this fall near Eli Lilly and Co.'s headquarters.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art and real‐estate developer Buckingham Companies have partnered to place works by more than 20 artists in the 209‐room hotel.

Twelve of the artists are executing new projects for public spaces at The Alexander.

"The art is for the hotel guests, but it's also for people who live in the city," said Lisa Freiman, head of the Indianapolis Museum of Art's contemporary art department. "It will be an interesting venue where they can go and have meals and have drinks and socialize. I think it will become a real destination for students and teachers of contemporary art ‐‐ one more accessible, free location for people to go in and learn."

The rise of "art hotels" typically is traced to 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Ky., which opened in 2006. The founders of 21c plan to open art hotels in Cincinnati and Bentonville, Ark., by January.

Artist Paul Villinski, who has been commissioned to create a bird‐themed sculpture from cut‐up vinyl LPs for The Alexander, has his work on display at 21c in Louisville.

"It's kind of a wonderful idea to create a destination hotel where the draw is fine art," Villinski said from his New York City studio. "Rather than a sports bar, the draw is fine art."

Freiman, who selected artists in association with the IMA's Veronica Roberts, said the collaboration between a hotel and an established museum is rare.

"It's not someone's personal collection," Freiman said of The Alexander. "It's a curated program for the hotel."

A centerpiece attraction will be a bar and lounge designed by Los Angeles‐based artist Jorge Pardo, who was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 2010.

Pardo will be responsible for furniture, lighting fixtures and surface treatments in the lounge, as well as a chandelier in the hotel's lobby.

The Alexander also will feature pieces by Indianapolis artists Lucinda Devlin, Brian McCutcheon, Artur Silva and Lauren Zoll.

Indianapolis history will be represented in a sculpture that pays tribute to hair‐care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker. Virginia‐based artist Sonya Clark used hundreds of combs to craft an 11‐foot‐by‐8‐foot likeness of Walker in 2008. For The Alexander, Clark plans to make a similar Walker piece based on a different photograph.

The museum's strategy of commissioning new artwork echoes its approach for 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, the woodlands west of the museum that opened to critical acclaim in 2010.

"It's a great opportunity to engage living artists in the community here and to also have them respond to subject matter that is specific to this place," Freiman said. "We were thrilled, obviously, with the results in 100 Acres."

Buckingham Companies is paying a fee to the IMA for curatorial services in selecting artists for The Alexander, which is named in honor of Alexander Ralston, the Scottish architect‐engineer who helped lay out the design for Indianapolis in 1820.

The hotel is part of the CityWay mixed‐use project at South and Delaware streets.

The $155 million CityWay project spans eight blocks of former Lilly parking lots and will include apartments, office space and restaurants. A YMCA fitness facility also is planned across South Street.