Visiting the ICA in Boston with Kids: What You Need To Know Before You Go

Show your kids a magical world of creativity at the ICA, Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art. Photo courtesy of the ICA Museum
Show your kids a magical world of creativity at the ICA, Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art. Photo courtesy of the ICA Museum
3/17/23 - By Michael Del Llano

Located on Fan Pier in the Seaport District, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is one of the top destinations for families in Boston. Inside, kids will find amazing displays of modern art. The works at the ICA span different media, with painting, sculpture, and so much more. Kids and parents will be floored at the ways these artists express themselves. The museum's striking main building is situated in one of Boston's most vibrant neighborhoods: the Seaport. Make visiting the ICA part of a day out in Boston, or spend the whole day at the museum!


For more awesome family destinations in the city, check out our guide to the top attractions in Boston. And for a budget-friendly family excursion, see Free Museums Near Boston to Visit With Kids.

Image of mother and child in gallery at ICA in Boston.

Kids will be amazed at the images and techniques on display at the ICA.

Why the ICA is an Awesome Family Destination

The ICA has fabulous exhibitions from around the world. Kids and parents will be dazzled by the vibrant colors and spectacular compositions. Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art has been displaying modern masterpieces since 1936. It has changed locations several times over the years. The museum had several locationss in the Back Bay before settling into the Seaport in 2006.

The museum has a number of family-oriented programs. It offers "Play Dates" on select Saturdays each month. Play Dates provide activities for kids and families, along with free admission.

The museum also hosts live performances, including music and dance, at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater. Check the museum's calendar for upcoming performances.

Must See Things at the ICA in Boston

Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art has so much for all ages to enjoy. Its ever-changing rotation of exhibits gives visitors reason to return.

Permanent Collection

The ICA established its permanent collection in 2006. This amazing collection features a variety of work in every media. From massive murals to delicate sculptures, the art is simply breathtaking. 


The galleries at the museum host several rotating exhibitions at once. Most are on display for months, allowing time to plan a visit. Check the museum's website for current and upcoming presentations.

Image of family at the Art Lab at Boston's ICA.

The ICA's Art Lab provides a space for families to have fun while making their own masterpieces!

The Art Lab

This studio space lets visitors explore their creativity. The museum's art lab is open for all ages on Thursdays from 5 pm to 7, and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 pm. 


Located across the harbor from the main building, this converted industrial space hosts an exhibition every summer. The Watershed's 35,000 square feet of exhibition space allows the museum to put some massive works on display!

Photo of exterior of Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, ICA

Kids will have fun exploring the grounds around the ICA!

Know Before You Go

The ICA in Boston is fully accessible. Coat and bag check is available (self-service).  Though not required, the ICA reccomends advanced ticket purchases.

The museum does have a look-but-don't-touch policy- smaller children might find the vibrant colors irresistable!

As with other Boston attractions, parking can be a challenge. The Courthouse station on the Silver Line is a short walk from the ICA.

Eating or Restaurants at Boston's ICA

Currently under rennovation the onsite Common Room Cafe will reopen in June 2023. Families are welcome to enjoy a picnic in the museum's outdoor space. The Seaport has an extensive range of options for dining. Nearby Sorelle Bakery has everything you'd need for a picnic at the museum or a bite on the go. The coffee will hit the spot for mom and dad! Nearby Kings is a good spot if the kids need a little activity after the art; burgers, bowling and air-hockey might be the right move if they're getting antsy.

Visiting the ICA in Boston

The ICA is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (until 9 pm on Thursday and Friday). Admission is free for kids 18 and under. General admission is $20, with discounts for students and seniors. The museum reccomends advanced ticket purchases. The ICA offers free admission on Thursday nights from 5pm to 9pm. Free Thursday evening admission can be secured online on the morning of the intended visit. Admission is also free for families on designated Saturdays.

All photos are courtesy of the Museum's Facebook page.

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