Are hotels designed for people who wish to escape reality? Of course they are.

That’s the focus of a new exhibition titled "New Hotels for Global Nomads" which explores the design of the modern hotel as escapist experience. Installed at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in New York City, the exhibit demonstrates that hotels today advance how people live in cities, travel around the world, conduct business, commune with nature, and even construct their fantasy lives. Modern hotels, the exhibit suggests, are not built simply as a place for travelers to stay the night, but a place where guests are offered an escapist experience, through its design, sense of spectacle, and amenities.

"New Hotels for Global Nomads" combines architecture, interior design, photography, film, and works of art to show how varied and dynamic hotels can be. The exhibit spotlights The Hotel in Lucerne, which re-creates movie scenes on its guestroom ceilings; The Venetian in Las Vegas, an example of the city’s new generation of "scenographic" hotels; and the sail-shaped Burj al-Arab in Dubai, the tallest hotel in the world.

Encompassing two full museum floors, the exhibition highlights more than 35 real and conceptual examples of modern hotels and their services, as well as materials on legendary historic hotels. The exhibition is organized into five themes: Urban Hotels, Hotels as Global Business, Hotels on the Move, Natural Hotels, and Fantasy Hotels. And the exhibit looks forward, using those themes, and forecasts the way hotels might be developed in the 21st century. The exhibit opens at the end of October and runs through March 2, 2003. http://www.si.edu/ndm