June 18, 2018
Institute of Contemporary Art to Offer Free Entry to New Space

March 2, 2017 — The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, one of the city's major nonprofit cultural institutions, today announced it will undertake a $10 million expansion that will create new exhibit space in East Boston, across Boston Harbor from its site in the Seaport district, which will feature free admission to all visitors.

The newly renovated 15,000 square-foot space in the Boston Shipyard and Marina, projected to open in summer 2018, will be called the Watershed and is the first major expansion of The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) since it moved from Boston's Back Bay to its current site in 2006.

The new facility is a central component of ICA’s recently completed five-year strategic plan, A Radical Welcome, designed to advance the leading center for the vibrant intersection of contemporary art and civic life in Boston.

At the Watershed, the ICA will welcome visitors "to experience immersive artworks by artists engaged with the issues of our times" seasonally while continuing regular programming in the Seaport year-round.

“Our location on Boston Harbor places us in a unique position to activate the waterfront. With this project, the ICA will make a cross-harbor connection that is central to our notion of art, civic life, and urban vitality,” said ICA Director Jill Medvedow.

She added, “The Watershed represents an exciting and creative mode of growth for the museum. It takes art beyond our walls, building upon a decade-long history of public art projects that bring together landscape and contemporary art, as well as ongoing partnerships with East Boston youth communities...We are honored to be a part of the East Boston landscape, a community that has long championed the arts, public parks, and the waterfront."

The addition of the building, currently condemned, will increase the museum’s overall exhibition space from its current 65,000 square feet by nearly 25%.

The ICA said the Watershed will be "a raw, industrial space for art unlike any other in Boston." In addition to a flexible space for exhibitions, programming, and workshops, it will house an orientation gallery introducing visitors to the historic shipyard complemented by a waterside plaza that will serve as a gathering place with stunning harbor views.

The ICA currently attracts about 210,000 visitors annually, charging $15 for adults and $10 for students; youth under 17 are admitted free. In addition, all visitors may visit without charge on Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m.

Anmahian Winton Architects has been engaged to execute the renovation of the facility. The design will embrace the history of the building’s original design and use. Transportation from the ICA to the Watershed will be available by boat from docks adjacent to the ICA, and on the MBTA Blue Line.

Founded in 1936 as the Boston Museum of Modern Art, a sister institution to New York’s MoMA, the ICA was conceived as a laboratory where innovative approaches to art could be championed, with gallery space provided by the Fogg and Busch-Reisinger Museums at Harvard University. It adopted its current name in 1948. It moved repeatedly until 1973 when it found a home at 955 Boylston Street, where it remained for the next 33 years.

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