The Institute of Contemporary Arts, the ICA, was formed in 1947 to provide British artists with the kind of the facilities available to United States artists at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
On opening in 1948, the art historian and critic Herbert Read declared that the ICA would be different from all other galleries,l and this is still true now with a reputation as challenging venue for all forms of artistic expression.
Many leading artists first exhibited their works in London at the ICA, including Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore and Damien Hirst.
The ICA was one of the first galleries to show photography and photo-generated imagery and in the 1960’s it was the first gallery to launch Pop artists such as David Hockney and Peter Blake.
The annual ‘Becks Futures’ art prize, the biggest arts prize in Britain, has been staged here since 1999.
Originally on Dover Street, the ICA moved into part of Carlton House Terrace in 1968. Dating from 1833, this beautiful, building was designed by John Nash just before his death in 1835.
Entered from the Mall, the ICA contains a cinema, auditorium, art gallery, bookshop bar and fine restaurant.
The Upper Gallery holds exhibitions representing avant-garde work, but the Concourse Gallery, by the cafe, attracts more attention.
In 1997 a New Media Centre was opened at the gallery.
The ICA hosts lectures, concerts, films and plays.
Admission charge, free entrance to shop.