The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA Boston) in Boston's Waterfront District is a gorgeous building located right on the water. The views alone make it work the trip into Boston. If your little one has a wee bit of patience, there are great displays of contemporary art located throughout the entire facility.
Institute of Contemporary Art for Kids and Families
Pick up a free booklet for families at the admissions desk. Designed for kids and grown-ups to use together, the guide explores the concepts behind the design of the ICA's building, and includes space for sketching and taking notes. Ask admissions desk staff for golf pencils or use your own pencils in the galleries. (Note: no markers or pens are permitted in the ICA galleries. You probably can figure out why.)
It'd be worth the time on the train or in the car on the way to the ICA to talk about appropriate museum behavior. Talk about using inside voices, walking and not running (though if your little one needs to run off some steam, there are great places outside the museum to do so). Remind them not to touch the art (unless museum signage indicates otherwise). This is to protect the objects from being damaged. Our fingers have natural oils that can leave harmful prints on artworks. Contemporary art uses a wide variety of media, which may include staining, toxic, and/or sharp materials.
To keep your little one entertained, have them think about how the art was made and imagine what it feels like. Ask them to visually locate certain colors or have them describe what they see. When all else fails, head to the huge expanse of windows and look at the planes and boats passing by.
There are baby changing stations located in both the women's and men's restrooms on the first and fourth floors, and strollers are permitted throughout the museum.
A children's menu is available in the Water Café. Outside food and drinks are not permitted in the museum. Though if you want to pack a picnic lunch, you can enjoy a snack or some juice outside with great views of the Boston Harbor.
The ICA is located at 100 Northern Avenue on Boston’s waterfront, adjacent to Anthony’s Pier 4 restaurant. It is a short walk from downtown and easily accessible by public transportation. (Take the the Commuter Rail or Redline subway to South Station and then take the Silver Line to the World Trade Center.)
The ICA is also just two blocks from the I-93 and Mass Turnpike off-ramps. Paid parking is available in lots on the south side of Northern Avenue and Seaport Boulevard. There is also some on-street metered parking along Northern Avenue and Seaport Boulevard.
The ICA also has Play Dates on the last Saturday of every month with activities especially for families. Admission is free for everyone (two adults with children 12 and under). There are fun activities like performances, art-making activities, gallery tours and more. No registration is necessary, but arrive early to take advantage of all the fun.