Boston’s wealth of galleries, open studios, and museums ensures you’ll never feel short-changed when it comes to contemporary art. These picks represent the better large-scale venues in town, though it’s only a small sampling of what’s available. If you have a whole day (or weekend) to dedicate to contemporary art, try to take the trip out to MASS MoCA for one of the most visionary art enterprises in the country.



100 Northern Ave.
Boston, MA

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.
Cambridge, MA

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
Cambridge, MA

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.
Boston, MA

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.

Bryce Lambert blogs on the Boston arts scene at, offering the occasional review and commentary on local shows, concerts, and art exhibitions.