Store Feature - The ICA Store

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA

The Institute of Contemporary Art is renowned for exhibiting and celebrating innovative approaches to art.

Founded in 1936 under its original name, the Boston Museum of Modern Art, the museum was established as a space to exhibit and celebrate innovative approaches to art. Renamed the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1948, the museum quickly gained a reputation for identifying and showcasing work of important new artists including Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Laurie Anderson and Roy Lichtenstein, all who presented work at ICA early in their careers. 

As an extension of the museum, the ICA Store offers up a wonderfully curated selection of books, accessories, gifts and more that reflect the museum’s commitment to contemporary art. Among the selection, you will find items that are directly related to ICA’s exhibitions, as well as thoughtfully designed products from brands at the forefront of design and beautifully crafted objects from American makers. All proceeds from the store directly support the museum’s artistic and educational programs.

Inside the ICA Store.

Needless to say, when Liz Adrian, the director of retail, placed an order for our puzzles — our very first retail order! — we were thrilled to be included in their amazing store. We recently chatted with Liz to find out more about the ICA Store, how it supports contemporary art and what we can expect to find in-store in the coming months.

The Institute of Contemporary Art’s mission is to share the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, provocation and imagination that contemporary art offers through public access to art, artists and the creative process. How does the ICA Store support this mission?

The Store is an extension of the museum experience — by offering something tangible, we enable people to capture and archive the memories, feelings and stories of their visit. The act of shopping is itself very creative and personal. You’re looking closely, and making decisions based on an emotional response — whether you are pleasing yourself or buying a gift, you’re building a narrative around an object which imbues it with personal meaning. That’s probably why so many people love to shop! And of course, all store purchases directly support the ICA’s exhibitions and programming.

Inside the ICA Store.

Many Eyes Vase by Demetria Chappo

Aside from items that directly relate to current exhibitions, what other artists’ work could we expect to see represented in the ICA Store?

As a buyer, I am always focused on finding work that is both functional and beautifully designed. Handmade objects are my passion, whether that means a chic earring from Vanessa Gade, a sophisticated matchbox from Akeem and Stephanie Glaze, or a wheel-thrown vase from Demetria Chappo — all distinctive and super special pieces. 

Items such as prints, postcards, posters and occasionally even puzzles can give your customers a chance to take home a piece of art. What are some of the benefits that can come from making contemporary art accessible in this way? 

As so much contemporary art is both personally expressive and a commentary on current social and cultural issues, viewing it can be a totally thought-provoking and transformative experience. Being exposed to these new ideas opens up possibilities, growth — and lots of questions. I love that we are able to offer people the ability to sit with a work long past their visit, and to stay in dialogue with something that captures their imagination.

Virgil Abloh's 'Figures of Speech' will run July 3rd - September 26th, 2021 at The Institute of Contemporary Art. Image from past exhibit at MCA Chicago.

Do you have anything new in the store that you think our art-loving customers should check out?

I’m currently working on a number of amazing collaborations around Virgil Abloh’s Figures of Speech exhibit this summer (July 3rd – September 26th). We’re having a second store completely devoted to all things Virgil! It’s going to be SO incredible — and lots of it will be online, so check back this summer!

The Institute of Contemporary Art will be reopening to the public on March 20th, as will the ICA Store. You can also shop the store’s incredible selection anytime on their online store. View their full collection of games and puzzles here.