Now located in a breathtaking waterfront setting, and among the oldest museums in the United States dedicated solely to contemporary art, ICA has for more than 75 years presented contemporary art in all media—visual arts, performance, film, video, and literature.
Though founded in 1936, the ICA initiated formation of its permanent collection in 2006. Offering a diverse overview of national and international artworks in a range of media, the collection provides an important resource for contemporary culture in Boston. The collection is particularly strong in art by women, with specific depth in work by Louise Bourgeois, Mona Hatoum, Nan Goldin, Doris Salcedo, and Cindy Sherman.
A seasonal satellite space called the ICA Watershed opened in 2018. Located in the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina in East Boston, the ICA Watershed transformed a 15,000-square-foot, formerly condemned space into a new civic and cultural asset. Each summer, the ICA will invite one artist to create a site-specific work or installation.
Whether or not you go, Diller, Scofidio & Renfro: Institute of Contemporary Art Boston: Museum Building Guides considers the design -- by Diller + Scofidio (now Diller Scofidio + Renfro) -- of the first new art museum to be built in Boston in a century. Opened in December 2006, the ICA is located on a small parcel of land on Boston Harbor and this is the 25th location for the museum in its 75 year history and its first, permanent, free-standing home. “The ICA's decision to hire Diller + Scofidio reflected our belief in the firm's vision that architecture can shape as well as reflect contemporary experience,” stated Jill Medvedow, director of ICA. The architects balanced use of cool and transparent glass with the warmth of wood and the energy of light, as well as their design of spare, flexible spaces for presenting contemporary art, was a revelation for a city and an architectural community. ''Their brilliant and beautiful design of the ICA was a harbinger of change: edgy, bold and breathtaking, transforming the landscape for contemporary art and culture in Boston and for the artists, art and ideas of our time,” Medvedow has said.