A year of opening doors

Wangechi Mutu’s A Promise to Communicate evoked a world that, despite its increasing potential for collectivity, struggles to communicate in a comprehensive way.

The work invited visitors to explore ideas of public space, communication, and free speech – and to leave their mark.

Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist, the artist’s first U.S. survey exhibition, examined 30 years of his pioneering inquiries into how we collect, interpret, and display nature.

A highlight of the exhibition, The Library for the Birds of New York/The Library for the Birds of Massachusetts, brought canaries and finches to the galleries.

These pieces revel in the delights of exploring and collecting, and they register their costs.

—The Boston Globe

Dion joined Mannion Family Curator Ruth Erickson for an in-depth free discussion of his work.

and led a hands-on workshop with ICA Teens in his hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

In family programming, the interactive activity Salty > Sour Seas allowed visitors of all ages to consider the changing makeup of our waters.

In Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today artist Jon Rafman offered an unforgettable journey beneath the surface of Boston Harbor in the ICA’s first virtual reality commission.

The critically acclaimed exhibition examined the boundless influence the internet has had on all facets of our lives, from work to dating to privacy to how we understand our bodies and ourselves

and extended beyond the galleries in a museum-spanning performance by Ryan McNamara called MEEM 4 Boston: A Story Ballet About the Internet.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the ICA also organized a robust citywide Art + Tech collaboration with 14 area arts organizations.

An exhibition of photographs by Nicholas Nixon presented the beloved Brown Sisters series in its entirety, alongside contemporaneous works.

On stage, acclaimed pianist Simone Dinnerstein and choreographer Pam Tanowitz paired for a “free and unorthodox interpretation” (New York Times) of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

Bessie Award–winner Okwui Okpokwasili offered a haunting exploration of erased or forgotten female resistance movements in Nigeria and beyond in Poor People’s TV Room.

And the collective Skeleton Architecture convened black performing artists from across genres and generations for a weeklong investigation of collaborative process, creative strategies, and improvisational practices and an informal performance, the future of our worlds.

Outdoors, Harborwalk Sounds continued its tradition of attracting locally based talent from across the globe for lively evenings on the Grandstand.

An exhibition of recent work by painter Dana Schutz captured imaginary stories, hypothetical situations, and impossible physical feats.

Artist Kevin Beasley presented his densely packed sculptures combining sculptural and acoustic elements.

While Caitlin Keogh debuted a new body of work in the first solo museum exhibition of her paintings.

Opened right before year’s end, We Wanted a Revolution, Black Radical Women, 1965–85  gave overdue attention to the role of women of color in second-wave feminism and art.

I didn’t know that I needed this art show until it was there.

—ICA Visitor

Arthur Jafa’s Love is the Message, The Message is Death powerfully considered the joys, traumas, and representation of black life in America through a range of media imagery.


First Fridays continued to attract audiences new to the museum.

The Artist’s Advisory Council, made up of 12 artists, writers, and choreographers, met with museum staff and leadership to share their thoughts and advice about a range of museum-related issues.

And shared their thoughts on museums’ role in society.

The year ended with the opening of the ICA Watershed, featuring the work of video art pioneer Diana Thater.

Thank you for your continued support of the ICA.

Image credits