100 Northern Ave.
The ICA sits at the center of Boston’s contemporary art world, with its growing permanent collection, popular must-see exhibitions, and a building that’s a work of art itself. Hip programming of music, theater, dance, and film from the vanguard of American and world performance round out the museum’s offerings. Stop by on Thursday evenings after 5:00 for free admission.
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
24 Quincy St.
Always free and open to the public, Harvard’s Carpenter Center hosts bold exhibitions, as well as a lecture series and regular artists’ talks. The building itself is the only Le Corbusier structure in the country. Sign up for their email list for information on happenings and be sure to stop by the Harvard Film Archive in the basement.
MIT List Visual Arts Center
20 Ames St., Bldg. E15
Serving as the apex of MIT’s network of art galleries and public art installations, the List puts on five to eight exhibitions each year, all of them usually accompanied by excellent gallery talks with curators, artists, and faculty. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
The Contemporary Art Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
465 Huntington Ave.
While its reputation among tourists stems largely from its collection of famous pictures by the likes of Van Gogh, Renoir, and Sargent, the MFA continues to make substantial efforts in expanding its contemporary art collection and exhibition schedule. For a look, head for the Foster Gallery, the MFA’s contemporary art exhibition space. Highlights from the permanent collection include work by Chuck Close, Cindy Sherman, and David Hockney.