Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, commonly referred to as ICA Boston, surpasses the status of a typical art museum.
When you visit ICA Boston, you will be captivated by an awe-inspiring space located on the South Boston Waterfront. This space is brimming with performances, films and videos, presentations, and galleries showcasing the explorations of contemporary artists, delving into both the physical and unseen realms.
Although ICA gained immense international recognition when it constructed its remarkable building, extending over Boston Harbor a few years ago, it has been introducing contemporary art to the city through rotating exhibitions since 1936.
During previous decades, ICA Boston introduced the first exhibitions in the United States for acclaimed artists like Georges Braque and Edvard Munch. It also showcased the early works of renowned artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Roy Lichtenstein, fostering their careers.
Today, ICA continues to prioritize the identification and presentation of the most significant and thought-provoking contemporary art from both emerging and established artists. Some of these works can be controversial and provocative, adding to the engaging experience.
What Awaits You at ICA Boston
ICA exhibitions typically feature prominent individual artists, including Steve McQueen, Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, Tara Donovan, Shepard Fairey, and Cindy Sherman. Additionally, thematic exhibitions and newly commissioned works are showcased.
The impressive space provided by ICA’s building on the South Boston Waterfront allows for a seamless integration of performance, art, film/video, presentations, and contemporary culture. This convergence often results in unexpected and fascinating outcomes.
For instance, during Shepard Fairey’s first solo museum show at ICA, the renowned graphic artist planned to perform as a guest DJ during the opening. However, his appearance was thwarted by the Boston Police, who arrested him on two outstanding warrants related to graffiti complaints. Fairey’s arrest created a perplexing blend of art and real-life, leaving the question of whether it was staged or coincidental unanswered.
This example perfectly demonstrates the fusion of art and life that you can frequently encounter in the presentations at ICA.
ICA’s diverse programming attracts crowds with varied interests, encompassing contemporary dance, music, performances, and films. Moreover, they host numerous parties, family days, tours, and even programs tailored for teenagers.
For detailed information, check the ICA website, where you will often find a wealth of interesting events taking place. You can also discover various ICA events, such as new exhibitions and summer concerts, listed on our Boston monthly events calendars.
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ICA hosts a 21+ First Friday party from 5pm-10pm on the first Friday evening of each month. These events feature local musicians or DJs, engaging activities, delectable food from local restaurants, and specialty cocktails, beer, and wine available for purchase.
During the warmer months, First Fridays are held outdoors on ICA’s spacious deck, offering a breathtaking view of the Harbor. It’s the perfect setting to dance under the stars.
Tickets are required for First Fridays (priced at the ICA admission cost), and they tend to sell out quickly. Therefore, it is recommended to secure your tickets in advance. Please note that the museum is closed to other visitors during First Friday events.
More to Explore near ICA
South Boston Waterfront: Immerse yourself in this trendy neighborhood where the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston is located.
Leader Bank Pavilion: This waterfront venue hosts some of Boston’s most exciting summer concerts. Check the schedule and obtain ticket information.
Fort Point Open Studios: Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to explore the art created by top Boston artists in their own studios.
Where to Stay near Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art
These hotels not only provide convenient proximity to ICA but also offer additional enticing perks. Choose from stunning views of Boston Harbor at the Seaport, spacious suites with 12-foot ceilings and brick walls in a post-and-beam building from 1900 at Residence Inn, or enjoy the fabulous 4-season roof deck and bar at the Envoy.
Read reviews and make reservations to secure your ideal stay.
Residence Inn Seaport
Where to Dine near ICA
While ICA’s on-site Water Cafe, serving casual fare by Wolfgang Puck and offering patio dining in warm weather, is an excellent choice, there are numerous other exceptional dining options nearby:
- Tatte Bakery & Cafe (101 Seaport Blvd): Indulge in freshly baked pastries and light fare.
- Nautilus Pier 4 (300 Pier 4): Savor delectable seafood and steaks, and enjoy the raw bar on weekends, all while seated on the patio.
- Wood Hill Pier 4 (300 Pier 4): Delight in New American cuisine highlighting local and organic produce.
You can also find more exceptional dining and drinking establishments near ICA:
- Waterfront options in the Seaport area
- Chef-owned restaurants in the Fort Point neighborhood
ICA Boston Essentials
Location: 100 Northern Avenue, South Boston Waterfront. It is also accessible via the Harborwalk, Boston’s public access path along the waterfront.
Admission, Discounts, and Free Admission to ICA Boston: General admission is priced at $20. However, admission is free for everyone on Thursdays from 5pm to 9pm, as well as for families (up to 2 adults accompanied by children 12 and under) on the last Saturday of every month, except for November and December, during ICA’s Play Dates event. Use the promo code PLAYDATE when booking.
ICA Boston offers free admission to Blue Star Families (active duty military, including National Guard and Reserves) between Memorial Day and Labor Day, as well as for youths aged 18 and under. Additionally, if you possess a Go Boston Pass, admission to ICA is free at any time.
ICA is closed on Mondays, except for specific national Monday holidays, when admission is free for everyone. These holidays include Martin Luther King Jr Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Labor Day, and Indigenous Peoples Day.
Parking: Nearby parking lots and garages in the area typically offer reasonable rates (around $20-$30) on weekends and after 5 pm on weekdays. However, rates can be significantly higher (ranging from $35-$45 for one hour or more) if you enter before 5 pm on weekdays. Some establishments may provide a $2 discount for ICA patrons on weekends, so it’s worth inquiring. Limited curbside parking is available in this area, so taking the T (Boston’s subway) is recommended if possible.
Reach ICA via T: Red Line/South Station is a convenient 6-10 minute walk away (use the Summer Street Bridge instead of the Congress Street Bridge on windy days). Alternatively, you can use the Silver Line/Courthouse stop, followed by a short walk of about 1 block east to reach ICA.