Don’t miss the newest addition to Boston’s burgeoning art scene this summer. The ICA Watershed, the Institute for Contemporary Art Boston (ICA)’s new extension in East Boston, is set to open to the public July 4.
Located in a former copper pipe and sheet metal factory in the active Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina, the Watershed connects the Seaport with Eastie and is expecting to bring thousands of visitors to the once-isolated neighborhood. From Memorial Day to Columbus Day, an ICA-contracted ferry will bring visitors directly from the ICA’s Seaport location to East Boston in six minutes, a ride that’s free with your admission, and entry to the Watershed comes at no extra cost.
“Central to the museum’s vision for art and civic life, the new Watershed will create immersive encounters with the art and issues of our time, be a center for social experiences and community-based education, and catalyze explorations of the environment, equity and social justice,” Margaux Leonard, the ICA’s Public Relations Manager, says.
The Watershed’s installations are intended to bring to light the history of East Boston. The informational Shipyard Gallery is the first room visitors enter. There’s a map of the neighborhood, plaques with information on the history of the area and a video montage of authentic interviews with people who have called East Boston home. As a haven for immigrants, an industrial community and a shipbuilding hub, the area has many stories to tell.
All you need to know about the ICA Watershed
Since moving to its current waterfront home in 2006, the ICA has attempted to deepen the connection between art and civic life in Boston.
“The Watershed makes a cross-harbor connection central to the ICA’s notion of art and civic life, and continues our decades-long history of activating and ensuring public access to the waterfront,” Leonard explains.
The Watershed’s inaugural installation is Diana Thater’s “Delphine,” a set of videos of swimming dolphins projected on the walls and floor of the Watershed. A nearby “video wall” projects an image of the sun. On the floor, six screens display a disjointed image of a butterfly. “A Runaway World” and “As Radical As Reality,” video installations in an adjacent room, showcase the lives of critically endangered rhinoceroses and elephants with footage from Kenya. The “Day for Night” installations depict slowly moving images of flowers. Thater also installed rainbow filters on the Watershed’s skylight, giving visitors the feeling that they’re walking through an ethereal space.
The Watershed’s back room, the Harbor Room, is a designated gathering space, with sets of chairs and family-friendly books on loan from the Boston Public Library. It also features an exhibit of portraits taken by East Boston teenagers. The room opens out onto an outdoor patio with a view of Boston Harbor.
Throughout the summer, the Watershed will put on programs like free tours in Spanish, informal conversations and storytelling for kids.
If you go:
256 Marginal St., East Boston, icaboston.org/ica-watershed