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Get inspired by Bucky Fuller and try your hand at geodesic dome-making, as students at Black Mountain College did!

Appropriate for: Creative minds age 9+ with adult assistance, or  younger children broken into repeatable construction steps over time with plenty of adult guidance. Making a geodesic dome is a perfect activity for multiple generations of family participants; working together makes the “dome” come to life sooner.

Tools and Materials needed:

(Use what you have on hand already.)

  • Straws of two colors (avoid using ‘flex’ straws unless you cut off the flexible joint) for Strut A & B
    You will need 33 straws (18 of one color and 15 of another color) for a dome and 60 (30 of each color) straws for a full sphere. A strut is a long, stiff board, beam or plank used as a support in building.
  • Scissors
  • Ruler (to measure straw lengths before cutting)
  • Pipe cleaners, 12” (the thinner type with less fluff works best!): about 12 per dome constructed
  • Time, patience, good humor, and plenty of snacks!

Safety tip: adults or older children can bend over the sharp ends of the pipe cleaners once they are threaded through the straws so that little fingers will not be harmed.

Creating Basic Pentagon Shapes (6 pentagons = geodesic dome)

A pentagon is a two-dimensional geometric figure formed of five sides and five angles.

  1. Select one color straw to be Strut A and one color to be Strut B. Strut A will be longer than Strut B. For example, using ~8” straws, cut straws into 4” lengths and into 3.5” lengths. [Or to determine what length for the straws, Strut B should be smaller than Strut A by a factor of 0.885.] Hint: measure and cut one straw into the correct length then use that straw as your guide to measure and cut the rest of the straws needed.
  2. Make a total of 35 Strut A’s.
  3. Make a total of 30 Strut B’s.
  4. Make some pentagons. Strut A’s will be the outside of each pentagon and Strut B will be the middle of the pentagon. Feed a pipe cleaner through a Strut A. Bend back the end to secure it in place around the straw. Join additional pipe cleaners as necessary to make one continuous length of pipe cleaner by twisting the ends of the pipe cleaners together tightly.
  5. Thread 4 more straws onto the pipe cleaners (for a total of 5 straws) then bend into the shape of a pentagon and secure the ends together.
  6. Thread 2 Strut B’s onto the long end of the pipe cleaner (add more pipe cleaners as necessary) then thread the pipe cleaner into an adjacent straw and out the other side.
  7. Thread 2 more Strut B’s through the pipe cleaner and then secure all Strut B’s at the center.
  8. Thread 1 final Strut B onto the pipe cleaner and secure all Strut B’s at the center of the pentagon with a small piece of pipe cleaner. It helps to wrap the pipe cleaner around the joint of one pair of Strut B’s and then wrap it around the second pair. Hint: Push the end of the pipe cleaner back into one of the straw struts to conceal it!
  9. Make 5 more pentagons as described above.

Note: For a full sphere (rather than a dome) cut more supplies, grab a snack, then make 11 more pentagons.

Make the Dome

Once you have completed the basic shape that will form the dome (or sphere) all you need to do is connect them together. Geodesic domes are very efficient structures. Can you tell why?

  1. Take one pentagon and thread a pipe cleaner through one side, secure at the end. This will be your center pentagon.
  2. Thread the long end of the pipe cleaner through one Strut B of a second pentagon. Make sure the pointed sides of the shapes are facing OUT. Pull them together.
  3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to connect a 3rd, 4th, and 5th pentagon at the joints of the center pentagon. Pull tightly.
  4. Take the 5 single Strut B’s and feed them through the base of the row of pentagon at the bottom, alternating pentagons and struts. Pull tightly.

This project was created by ICA Family Programs Coordinator Kathleen Lomatoski, with support from Ana Dziengel.

© 2015 Department of Education, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston

Fiber art, Black Mountain College, monumental drawings, virtuosic dance, major acquisitions, impassioned performance… 2015 had it all.

From monumental Fiber art to Black Mountain College, Happenings to premiere performances, a shiny new website to 20 major additions to our collection, 2015 has been a year to remember. Some of the highlights:

  • Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present charmed audiences, won awards, and brought Sheila Hicks to the museum.

  • Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão taught us the meaning of anthropophagy in her first solo U.S. museum show.

  •  PERFORMANCE_RitchieArtist Matthew Ritchie capped his 18-month residency at the ICA with The Long Count/The Long Game, a multimedia concert experience featuring Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, Kelly Deal of The Breeders, staged installations, and Tarot card readings, and a very memorable baseball bat.

  • The legendary Mark Morris Dance Group returned to the ICA for the first time since 2007 to present an evening of dance elaborating on musical masterpieces.

  • STARS_Thomas_Untitled 2283When the Stars Begin to Fall traveled from the Studio Museum in Harlem, placing works by self-taught, spiritually inspired, and incarcerated artists alongside projects by such prominent contemporary artists as Kara Walker, Kerry James Marshall, David Hammons, and Theaster Gates.
  • ICA Reads, our new take on the book club, brought National Book Award winner Claudia Rankine to the ICA to talk race, micro-aggressions and Citizen: An American Lyric.
    ICAReads_Rankine With Teens
  • Ian Schneller’s colorful horn speakers filled the galleries with Andrew Bird’s unforgettable canyon compositions in Sonic Arboretum.
  • MURROW_Seastead

    Armed with a vivid imagination and 400 Sharpies, artist Ethan Murrow created a massive seascape drawing inspired by the ICA’s own neighborhood on the museum’s sprawling Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall.

  • This year’s James and Audrey Foster Prize exhibition captured an artistic energy thriving today in Boston—artist collectives and performance artists—with works by Richard DeLima, kijidome, Vela Phelan, and Sandrine Schaefer.
  • Everyone loves a sunset on the harbor. This summer we coupled our amazing waterfront view with some incredible tunes: Lucius, How to Dress Well, Mykki Blanco, !!!, Grey Season, Ripe, Oh, Malô, and more! Plus top local chefs prepared al fresco cooking demonstrations and tastings. FF_Sunset on Plaza and Water
  • This year’s First Fridays featured local crooners, wild performance art, steel drummers, a carnival parade, fashion shows, pop-up raw bars, killer DJs, Improv Aslym, holiday kareoke, giveaways, and a bevvy of fun speciality beverages.
  • SHECHET_Slip InstallArlene Shechet’s major survey filled the West Gallery with “some of the most imaginative sculpture of the past 20 years.” (New York Times)
  • ICA after 5, a new series of dynamic Friday evening programming, brought harborside yoga, champagne tastings, adult coloring, and latte art to Friday night.
  • Our brand spankin’ NEW website launched this September!
  • DANCE_Faye Driscoll_Thank You For ComingFaye Driscoll’s unforgettable performance Thank You For Coming: Attendance had audiences skipping, dancing, and happily donning ridiculous hats.
  • This year the ICA hosted our first College Night! Boston’s universities and colleges took over the museum to experience the ICA as never before with DJ Knife, larger-than-life games, art activities, food and drink giveaways, and, of course, amazing art.
  • A second gift from philanthropist Barbara Lee, including significant works by Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, and Kara Walker, brought The Barbara Lee Collection of Art by Women to a total of 68 major works of 20th- and 21st-century art. See a selection on view this summer!
  • Last but certainly not least: landmark exhibition Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957.BMC_install with john
    Lauded in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and Harper’s Bazaar, this expansive multidisciplinary undertaking brought to the museum works by masters Anni and Josef Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Ruth Asawa, and Robert Motherwell), alongside stunning music, dance, and performance. There is still time to see one of the year’s most acclaimed exhibitions!

The Dubai-based collaborators combine artworks with everyday and offbeat objects in sincere and probing assemblages.

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian draw from a wide range of material and cultural sources in their work, combining everyday and offbeat objects with their own artworks and those of other artists in sincere and probing assemblages. For The Birthday Party, their first major U.S. museum exhibition, the Dubai-based collaborators worked for the first time with a museum’s collection, choosing works by Louise Bourgeois, Jimmy De Sana, and Ree Morton to incorporate into their lively installation.

Some of the materials they transported from Dubai to pair with them are:

  • Campbell’s Soup can candle
  • Two sets of bird dresses
  • Two gardening forks
  • Mermaid
  • Three Uglydolls
  • One crutch
  • Artificial baguette
  • Artificial lettuce
  • Two papier-mache pigs (Tooth Pig and Pig Punk)
  • E.T. finger
  • Aluminum and duct tape rabbit

There’s something for everyone this vacation week at the ICA: three celebrated exhibitions, a bunch of fun, creative + FREE activities, wintry waterfront views, and many more reasons to spend the holidays with us!

Artsy Activities for all

  • Collaging With Color: Take in works by Josef Albers and many others in Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957. Then play with color in the Bank of America Art Lab: choose from hundreds of colors to create 2D collages that describe you, your family, or your friends. Pop-up Maker Workshops with local artists will also be offered. For all ages; adult collaboration required for children under 12.
  • Art-Making Workshop: Through a Lens: Take-in Ethan Murrow’s monumental drawing on the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall, decipher its stories, then imagine and draw your own scenes on acetate slides to fit inside a telescope you design. For children ages 4 and above with adult collaboration. For children ages 5 and above with adult collaboration.
  • Sketching Workshop: Draw the view of Boston Harbor and beyond or draw from your imagination. All materials provided. For children and adults of all ages.
  • Makers’ Workshop: Visit the galleries to see and investigate how contemporary artists with work on view in the ICA Collection connect materials, then create your own up-to-date festoons using mixed materials and plenty of problem solving and imagination. For children of all ages with adult collaboration.

Black Mountain College

Don’t miss one of the season’s most acclaimed exhibitions! Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 celebrates the memory and myth of a small liberal-arts school in North Carolina where the course of art history changed forever. Despite its brief existence, BMC became a seminal meeting place for many of the artists, musicians, poets, and thinkers who would become the principal practitioners in their fields of the postwar period.

Brand New Exhibitions

Diane Simpson
See Diane Simpson’s “stunning work” in this “superb,” “riveting exhibition.” (Boston Globe)
Chicago-based artist Diane Simpson’s elegantly constructed sculptures evolve from a diverse range of materials, clothing, and architectural sources. While elements of her creations appear to effortlessly hang and fold, they are in fact the result of a rigorous approach to construction techniques, reveling in passages of pattern, joinery, and skewed angles that are by turns humorous and psychologically-charged. Diane Simpson is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition on the East Coast.

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian: The Birthday Party
The artists “brought the spirit of their underground curation with them: challenge authority, work with friends, blur boundaries, and see what springs up.” (Boston Globe)
Watch Dubai-based artists Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian bring their collaborative artistic practice – and generous, inclusive aesthetic – to the ICA.The three Iranian artists—two brothers and their childhood friend—combine their individual work with that of other artists, in sculpture, painting, drawing, and video, to generate probing and beautiful environments.

British Best-Of

The best adverts from across the pond are here! Celebrate commercial creativity with our holiday tradition, a screening of the British Arrows Awards. (We know you fancy it.)

Guilt-Free Shopping

Find the perfect present or accessory you never knew you desperately needed at the ICA store (recently named one of the best museum shops in the world!): we’re talking special products designed in collaboration with ICA exhibited artists, the best selection of art and photography books in New England, and home items intended to improve – and beautify! – your everyday living. Bring the delights of contemporary art home. PLUS all purchases support the exhibitions and programs of the ICA.

Prefer inspiration to resolutions? Words of encouragement from Black Mountain College artists and educators, from constructive to inspirational to abstract.

Don’t fight forces, use them.

Buckminster Fuller

  • “Our world goes to pieces. We have to rebuild our world.”  –Anni Albers
  • “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” –John Dewey
  • “When you put a seed in the ground, it doesn’t stop growing after eight hours. It keeps going every minute that it’s in the earth. We, too, need to keep growing every moment of every day that we are on this earth.” –Ruth Asawa

If you don’t have trouble paying the rent, you have trouble doing something else; one needs just a certain amount of trouble.

Robert Rauschenberg

  • “We need not destroy the past. It is gone.”  –John Cage
  • “Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.”  –John Dewey
  • “Ninety-nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.”  –Buckminster Fuller

Creating is the most intense excitement one can come to know.  

Anni Albers

  • “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”  –John Cage
  • “All that we can hope for is to put some order into ourselves.” –Willem de Kooning
  • “A thing is never seen as it really is.”  –Josef Albers
  • “I don’t mess around with my subconscious.”  –Robert Rauschenberg

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.

Buckminster Fuller

  • “I want to give an example from my lessons: you drink wine for the first time. Please don’t judge, but drink many wines, study them and probably then if you are looking for words to describe a wine you will see that you can’t find them.”   –Josef Albers
  • “The only way to do it is to do it.” –Merce Cunningham
  • “I am happy to have some friends here in the kitchen.” –Charles Olson
  • “Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” –John Dewey

Falling is one of the ways of moving. 


  • “Wholeness is not a Utopian dream, it is something that we once possessed and now seem largely to have lost, or to say it less pessimistically, seem to have lost were it not for our inner sense of direction which still reminds us that something is wrong here because we know of something that is right.” –Anni Albers
  • “The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.” –John Dewey
  • “I’m trying to climb up both walls at once.” –Charles Olson

Art is spirit and spirit is eternal.  



There is so much to learn from Black Mountain College. Leap Before You Look in 2016!

Chicago-based artist Diane Simpson presented elegantly constructed, architectural sculptures in her first major museum exhibition (at the age of 80).