About the ICA
75 Years of Contemporary Art
Mission, History and Programming
The Institute of Contemporary Art strives to share the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, provocation, and imagination that contemporary art offers through public access to art, artists, and the creative process.
The primary activities of the ICA are threefold:
• To present outstanding contemporary art in all media, including visual art
exhibitions, music, film, video and performance, that is deserving of public
attention and has not been presented in depth to Boston audiences
• To provide innovative experiential learning opportunities for people of all ages
through direct encounters with artists and art making
• To design interpretative programs that provide context, develop appreciation,
and add meaning to contemporary art and culture
Founded in 1936 as The Boston Museum of Modern Art, the museum was conceived as a laboratory where innovative approaches to art could be championed... More
The ICA aims to present the most significant national and international contemporary art to Boston audiences. Our multi-faceted exhibition program includes the Momentum series, focusing on the work of emerging artists; the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall, an annual, site-specific commission in the museum lobby; the James and Audrey Foster Prize, a biennial exhibition and award for Boston-area artists; and selections from our burgeoning permanent collection. The West Gallery, our largest exhibition space, has featured critically acclaimed solo and group exhibitions.
The Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater is the place to see some of the most talented, thought-provoking, and creative performing artists working today. On over 80 nights a year, audiences can see storytellers, choreographers, composers, media artists and musicians from around the world. Patti Smith, Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Bebe Miller, Sara Rudner, and John Zorn are just a few of the remarkable performers presented at the ICA in our first two years. Each summer, our free concert series presents top musicians from Berklee College of Music in an unparalleled waterfront setting on the Vivien and Alan Hassenfeld Harborway.
Film and Video
ICA Film and Video presents an adventurous selection of the best of regional, national and international cinema, experimental and independent film, video, and digital media. In addition to programming works inspired by the museum's acclaimed exhibitions, the ICA collaborates and co-presents with several major film festivals, and presents retrospectives by important contemporary artists. The ICA has presented world, U.S., and local premieres, including sneak previews of highly anticipated films, and conversations with filmmakers, film scholars, and critics.
Our adult programs offer opportunities to contemplate contemporary culture through varied perspectives by engaging dynamic speakers from a range of disciplines—connecting chefs with scholars or artists with scientists, for example. Speaking independently or in conversation, presenters urge audiences towards new and innovative thinking about our culture. A wide range of series, including artist talks, poetry readings, and a partnership with the AIGA, stimulates active and vibrant encounters between people, art, and ideas. In addition, in-depth adult courses feature lectures, discussion, and gallery visits to encourage thoughtful dialogue about contemporary art.
The ICA's programs are designed to stimulate innovation and creativity for the whole family. Our monthly Play Dates program is based on the ICA's collection and exhibitions and activates the entire museum with hands-on activities, gallery tours, films, performances, and sketching-all designed to inspire children and adults as they explore the art on view. In addition, local artists lead activities for all ages in our Bank of America Art Lab, while our Architectural Audio Guide encourages understanding of the unique architectural features of the museum and is available free at the admissions desk.