Photo by Liza Voll.
(Boston, MA—Oct. 25, 2023) Steven D. Corkin and Charlotte Wagner, Co-Chair and President of the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA), announced today that longtime director Jill Medvedow will step down from her position in December 2024. Over her 25-year tenure as Ellen Matilda Poss Director, Medvedow has led the transformation of the ICA from a small, non-collecting kunsthalle to a major contemporary art museum, a national leader in teen arts education, and a pioneering advocate for the role of art in civic life.
In a statement on behalf of the ICA’s Board of Trustees, Corkin and Wagner said, “Jill transformed the ICA into an anchor institution in Boston, and one of the leading centers for artistic experimentation and contemporary culture in the country. Working with staff, artists, teachers, students, and community partners, she has integrated new art and ideas into the heart of our communities, bridged the connection between contemporary art and civic life, and in doing so, forever changed the landscape for contemporary art and culture in the city of Boston. We are profoundly grateful to Jill for her inspired leadership, her commitment and dedication, and her unwavering mission to expand access to art for all.”
“I love the ICA; I love its people and programs, and I am excited for all of us as we move forward,” said Medvedow.
In 1998, when Medvedow was hired, the ICA was located in a former police station. Medvedow sparked a renaissance for contemporary art in Boston when, in 2006, she opened the city’s first new art museum in nearly a century. The first U.S. commission of architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the ICA today is an architectural icon. The museum now encompasses a waterfront campus including the building in the Seaport, the ICA Watershed—a free, industrial space across Boston Harbor for immersive art and community engagement—and Seaport Studio, a dedicated space for teen arts programs.
Under Medvedow’s leadership, annual attendance at the ICA has grown more than 1,000%, to more than 300,000 today. Through major campaigns, Medvedow has raised more than $200 million to build the new ICA and the ICA Watershed and to improve financial strength and resiliency for generations to come.
Medvedow has been a leader in nurturing artistic experimentation, championing new artists and new ideas and amplifying artists’ voices, additionally establishing the museum’s first Artist Advisory Council to ensure that the ideas and needs of artists are central to institutional planning. During the course of her directorship, the ICA has presented more than 250 exhibitions, including groundbreaking thematic exhibitions such as Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957; Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present; Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today; When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art; and To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood as well as important single-artist exhibitions by Cornelia Parker, Tara Donovan, Shepard Fairey, Nick Cave, Doris Salcedo, Ragnar Kjartansson, Arlene Shechet, Amy Sillman, Jeffrey Gibson, Yayoi Kusama, Huma Bhabha, Deana Lawson, and Simone Leigh, among many others. Watershed presentations include commissions from John Akomfrah, Firelei Báez, and Guadalupe Maravilla.
In the performing arts, the ICA has been a vibrant presenter of new work, including recent commissions by Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran, Okwui Okpokwasili, and Liz Gerring. Medvedow was the co-commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion of the 2022 Venice Biennale with a historic presentation of Simone Leigh.
Medvedow transformed the ICA into a collecting museum—including the acquisition of The Barbara Lee Collection of Art by Women—bringing to the fore diverse artistic voices and artists who have been historically underrepresented. Today it is one of the only art museum collections with almost 60% of works by artists who identify as women and 38% who identify as people of color. Equally notable, Medvedow is a national champion for teen arts programs and the role museums can play in the lives of teens and their city. In 2012, the ICA’s teen initiative was recognized with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award from the White House, the highest honor of its kind. Today an average of 6,000 teens a year participate in ICA programs and national convenings.
Throughout her career, Medvedow has been equally passionate about contemporary art and civic life, from her leadership on after- and out-of-school equity for children; early work with City Year developing a survey on attitudes and behaviors of young people on the arts; and championing temporary public art projects in unexpected locations since the early 1980s. A member and former trustee of the American Association of Museum Directors, she led efforts for paid internships at art museums, changing a longstanding tradition in the field. Medvedow’s commitment to enriching the lives of young people extends to her personal creativity as well; she recently authored a children’s book titled Kangamoo!, donating hundreds of copies to early education programs in Boston. She served on Governor Deval Patrick’s Creative Economy Transition Team in 2008 and more recently on the arts policy transition group for Governor Maura Healy. In 2022, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Medvedow is currently a Trustee of Boston After School and Beyond and serves on the Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion Arts Advisory Board. In 2023 she began as a fellow at the Harvard Divinity School, exploring art’s expanded role in community. She is a passionate speaker about art, healing, and social change.
ICA: Colette Randall, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-318-8271