Photo by Florian Holzherr
The ICA Watershed, opened in the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina in summer 2018, transformed a 15,000-square-foot, formerly condemned space into a vast and welcoming venue to see and experience large-scale art in East Boston.
During the pandemic, the site has been used as a food distribution site to address a direct need within the East Boston community, which has experienced one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in Boston. In partnership with community organizations in East Boston and the museum’s caterer, The Catered Affair, more than 2,000 boxes of much-needed fresh produce and dairy were delivered to East Boston families through spring and summer. Delivery will continue through spring 2021.
The Watershed was scheduled to open the 2020 season with a new commission by acclaimed artist Firelei Báez; the exhibition will now be on view in summer 2021. In her largest installation to date, Báez will reimagine the Watershed’s gallery space as the site of an ancient ruin, as though the sea had receded from the floor to reveal the archeology of human history in the Caribbean. An interactive art project by artist Stephen Hamilton, previously scheduled for the Watershed’s Harbor Room, will also take place in 2021.
About the Watershed
Located in the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina in East Boston, the ICA Watershed transforms a 15,000-square-foot, formerly condemned space into a new civic and cultural asset. Award-winning firm Anmahian Winton Architects designed the renovation of the derelict former copper pipe facility, conserving its industrial feel while restoring the building for new use.
Each summer, the ICA invites one artist to create a site-specific work or installation. Past projects include Diana Thater, an light and moving-image installation, in 2018 and John Akomfrah: Purple, an immersive, six-channel video installation, in 2019.
The Watershed also houses an orientation gallery introducing visitors to the historic shipyard, a waterside gathering place with stunning harbor views, and a flexible space for exhibitions, programming, and workshops. Past offerings in this space include exhibitions of photography by ICA Teens such as A Community in Focus: East Boston, as well as participatory projects such as Aquí y Allá, a series of programs and activities on food, home, and community co-hosted by artist Evelyn Rydz and Eastie Farm’s Kannan Thiruvengadam in 2019.
The Watershed represents an exciting and creative mode of growth for the museum. With this project, the ICA will make a cross-harbor connection that is central to our vision of art, civic life, and urban vitality. It takes art beyond our walls, building upon a decade-long history of public art projects that bring together landscape, history, and contemporary art. The new facility is a central component of the ICA’s recently completed five-year strategic plan, A Radical Welcome, designed to deepen the vibrant intersection of contemporary art and civic life in Boston.
The ICA wishes to extend its enormous gratitude to the organizations that have partnered with us to codevelop unique art experiences that respond to community needs and interests: the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina, Donald McKay K-8 School, East Boston High School, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, East Boston Social Centers, the Massachusetts Port Authority, Maverick Landing Community Services, Piers Park Sailing Center Samuel Adams Elementary School, and Zumix.
Explore East Boston arts
There’s lots of art to see in East Boston! Check out these local organizations:
Atlantic Works Gallery
Catch new exhibitions monthly at this warehouse gallery space less than a mile from the Watershed, open Friday and Saturday afternoons or for Third Thursday receptions from 6 to 9 PM.
East Boston Artists Group
Artists working in a range of media; stop by their biannual open studios near Maverick Square.
Harbor Arts + the Shipyard Gallery
The art you see around the Shipyard is the doing of the community nonprofit HarborArts.
Radio, youth programs, and free Sunday evening concerts in Piers Park.
Free admission to the ICA Watershed is made possible by the generosity of Alan and Vivien Hassenfeld and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation.
The Boston Foundation welcomes you to the ICA Watershed.
The ICA Watershed is supported by Fund for the Arts, a public art program of the New England Foundation for the Arts and Vertex.