Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Touring Boston - What to Know About Visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) with Children

I kept seeing these things for the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (ICA), like that it's open free to the public on all Thursday nights between 5-9pm and that the last Saturday of every month is family day and families and kids get in free, and that the library has a bunch of passes that you can pick up to see the museum for free.  I have known about and forgotten and been reminded again of these things for probably about a year.  For the last 3 Thursday's we've been trying to go, but something always comes up, my husband has to work late, someone offered to drive me grocery shopping (it's a big deal when you don't have a car) or it's so cold outside that I don't think the baby would stand for a mile walk along the pier.... etc.

Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) with Children

It looked like my husbands next couple of Thursdays were booked and I finally put my foot down.  We were going to see this Art Gallery if it killed us.  So Saturday, after our son's nap, we went.  It was actually the perfect day for a walk downtown, it was in the mid 40's with only a little wind, and since we got a wind shield for our stroller the baby didn't mind the walk at all.

I love seeing Boston, the buildings are fantastic and walking along the water front is always interesting and exciting.  I was thrilled to note the museum is right on pier, so we would get a great water front view as we walked to it.

We carried our son around the museum looked at the different pieces they had.  One of the wings was closed as they are working on getting a new exhibit up, but they gave us free tickets to come again because of it, which was great.

I think the most memorable installment was a video clip of extreme closes up of models licking a piece of glass covered with different candies.  It was gross, fascinating, a little bit sexual, but mostly like a train wreck that you can't look away from.

Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) with Children
Our son did okay initially, but he started getting bored and impatient of being carried a few rooms in.  He was too busy to walk with us and we didn't want him bugging the other people so we had to cut our trip short.  I wish we had gone during family day so he could have blended and interacted with the other kids and I would have felt less guilty for annoying other people... perhaps will have to use our return tickets for family day.

They had one room toward the end that was just a glass wall with a view of the harbor where we felt safe setting our son down.  He made a real effort to get their glass good and smudged, but the view was lovely nonetheless.    If I worked there, that is where I would take all my breaks.

We finished out trip and played on the grass near the ICA for a little bit to get out some energy.  Unfortunately, I realized the lawn was so covered with bird crap that it looked like it had been aerated, so I had to cover our son's hands with his coat and watch him carefully while he walked.  He passed out the minute we got him back situated in stroller.  All in all in was a fantastic day.  I loved having family time and getting to be out and about exploring this fascinating city.
Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) with Children

Things to note:

1.  Getting There
I have no idea where you would park there, since we didn't have a car I didn't even look, but it was a nice, less than a mile, walk from the "T" which worked out well for us.  The website mentions that there is parking around it but that it cost upward of $20...

2. Price
$15/Person - General Admission
$10/Person - Student
17 and under free

FREE for all every Thursday from 5 to 9 PM during ICA Free Thursday Nights. Special hours: From Oct, 10, 2015 to Jan 24, 2016, Free Thursdays will start early at 4 PM in conjunction with Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957.

Free admission for up to two adults accompanied by children 12 and under during Play Dates, offered on the last Saturday of the month, except December.*

3. Hours
Tuesday and Wednesday: 10 AM – 5 PM
Thursday and Friday: 10 AM – 9 PM
Saturday + Sunday: 10 AM – 5 PM

Closed Mondays, except on the following national holidays: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day.

4.  Stroller Friendly
You can easily bring a stroller into the place.  It's big and open.  A few of the exhibits you'll have to leave the stroller to enter but we found it to be easy to do.

5.  Kid Friendliness
Go during one of the free kid Saturdays.  We didn't and I wish we would have.  I felt bad having a toddler there who wanted to walk around and was fairly disruptive to the other patrons who seemed really into their contemporary art.  I would have felt much better about taking our son if there were a bunch of other kids and if the people going knew that kids would be there... plus its free on kids day so it's kind of a win/win.

Summary and Rating: ★★★★☆
Four Stars.  The museum itself was really nice and state of the art. The walk to it was gorgeous.   It was stroller friendly and it seems like they are really trying to make sure children are welcome there.  The draw backs are that this is a nice art museum which can make having young children there a struggle.  I think we would have had a better experience going during family day where we would have felt less disruptive. Also the museum looked huge from the outside, but we saw all the exhibits fairly quickly from the inside, as I mentioned one of the wings was closed for a new instillation so we might have been missing out on a big portion of the museum but it was quite a bit smaller than other ones we've been to, like the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum or the Museum of Fine Art.

Have you been here before?  If so I'd love to know more about your experience and any tips or tricks you have in the comments section below. 

Boston Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)

100 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA 02210

Phone: 617-478-3100