Jill Medvedow is the Ellen Matilda Poss Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston and a national leader championing the civic role of art museums. When Medvedow opened the ICA’s iconic Diller Scofidio + Renfro building in 2006, it was the first new art museum in Boston in nearly a century, and dramatically altered the landscape for contemporary art in the city. In her more than two decades at the helm of the ICA, the museum has seen on-site attendance surpass a quarter of a million people annually.
Medvedow launched the museum’s permanent collection; created a significant performing arts program; invested in teen arts education; and has long championed women artists and artists underrepresented in the art historical canon. Landmark exhibitions and publications during her tenure include Cornelia Parker; Amy Sillman: one lump or two; Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957; Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present; Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today; Kevin Beasley; and the first museum survey dedicated to the work of Deana Lawson. Under Medvedow’s tenure, the ICA created a national model for teen arts education, investing in young people as future leaders, artists, and electorate; these efforts were recognized with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award from the White House in 2012. Most recently, Medvedow spearheaded a national effort for paid internships in American art museums.
In 2018, Medvedow opened the ICA Watershed in East Boston, transforming a condemned former copper pipe facility into a flexible industrial space for immersive works of art and community events, free to the public. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Watershed was transformed into a distribution site for fresh food and art kits for East Boston families. In partnership with community-based health, housing, and social service organizations in East Boston, over 50,000 people were served.
Under her leadership, the ICA was awarded the commission for the U.S. Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2022 by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, presenting the work of Simone Leigh. The Biennale will be immediately followed by Leigh’s first survey exhibition at the ICA, a national tour, and the publication of the artist’s first monograph.
Medvedow sits on the Boston Public School Arts Advisory Board, serves on the Boston After School and Beyond board, and is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2022 and is the subject of an MIT Sloan School of Management Case Study on Leadership. Prior to joining the ICA, Medvedow was the Deputy Director/Curator of Contemporary Art at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the founder of Vita Brevis, a public art initiative.