Image by Andrew Sidford

ICA – High art, hidden in plain sight

One of the things I like most about the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) is the location. Listed as being at 12 Carlton House Terrace, what that actually means is The Mall, probably the most famous boulevard in London. Buckingham Palace at one end. Admiralty Arch at the other. St James Park runs down one side and on the other side… well, that will be the ICA. 

Contemporary arts right in the middle of all that history and pageantry. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition and helps to make any visit to the ICA memorable.

Founded in 1946 by a group of artists, collectors and critics the ICA often shows artists at the beginning of their careers. Or unheralded artists. Or artists unknown in this country. For example, I went to a Q&A session with a Colombian-based musician about his forthcoming album that was supported by an exhibition of photos of the musicians involved. It was engrossing and fascinating and I’m not sure where else I could have seen it.

The cinema is incredible and will be showing films that you won’t find anywhere else nearby (like the Frames of Representation festival, showcasing new forms of documentary cinema).

While the exhibitions themselves range from Helen Jones examining the effects of British colonialism on Australia to the Belgian graphic artist Frans Masereel’s depiction of urban life.

The breadth of what the ICA covers is truly wonderful – as is the book shop and the cafe/bar – so go and enjoy the high culture hidden amongst the history.

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Details about this spot



12 Carlton House Terrace , London

Telephone number


Opening Times

Tue - Sun 11:00 - 23:00


Day membership: £ 1


Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)