Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in Boston

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The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is an art museum and exhibition space located in Boston, in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The museum was founded in 1936 with a mission to exhibit contemporary art.


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.

New Building

Formerly located on Boylston Street in the Back Bay neighborhood, the ICA moved to a new facility in the Seaport District area of South Boston. The museum celebrated the completion of its new building the weekend of December 9–10, 2006. The new building coincided with the museum's launch of its first permanent collection.

The new building was designed by the architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. It is one of that firm's first structures to be built, and the first to be built in the United States. It is also the first new art museum to be built in Boston in over a century.

The building is located between the Courthouse and World Trade Center stations on the MBTA Silver Line. It is adjacent to Anthony’s Pier 4 restaurant.

Critical response

The building's design, which echoes that of nearby waterfront gantry cranes, has been celebrated by many critics for its openness, represented by its exterior grand staircase, and willingness to embrace the surrounding harbor. The ICA was the recipient of the 2007 Harleston Parker Medal, awarded to "the most beautiful piece of architecture" in Boston. It has also been called a "botched box" by architecture critic Philip Nobel, who criticised it for having poor circulation, a dull facade facing land, and casting into shadow the harborside promenade that Elizabeth Diller once referred to as "Boston’s only viable civic space." [1]


The ICA's 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 the permanent collection. The West Gallery, the largest exhibition space, has featured solo and group exhibitions including Super Vision (2006), Philip-Lorca diCorcia (2007), Street Level (2008), Anish Kapoor(2008), Tara Donovan (2008), Shepard Fairey(2009), and Mark Bradford (2011).

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