Best underappreciated museum
Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art may not be able to win this category too much longer. By 2004, the
ICA expects to move into a dazzling new facility at Fan Pier - the first art museum to be built in Boston
for nearly a century. This spring, the ICA's board of trustees selected the New York architectural firm of
Diller + Scofidio to design the 60,000-square-foot building, which will include a performing-arts center,
classrooms, a gift shop, and a restaurant. In the meantime, the 65-year-old museum has lined up some great
exhibitions for its relatively intimate Boylston Street site. Highlights this year have included Rineke
Dijkstra's large-format color photographs of teenage mothers, which Phoenix critic Christopher Millis
praised for their "unexpected drama and subtlety"; and "The Social Scene," a group show including
photographs by Diane Arbus, Brassaļ, and Robert Frank. The current exhibition features works by acclaimed
young painter Ellen Gallagher.
While the ICA wins admirers by taking risks, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is an oasis of tranquil
stability in a city that seems overrun with construction projects. The museum, built in the style of a
15th-century Venetian palace, relies mainly on its permanent collection of Italian Renaissance and
17th-century Dutch works. Among the highlights are paintings by Rembrandt, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian,
Institute of Contemporary Art, 955 Boylston Street, Boston, (617) 266-5152; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway, Boston, (617) 566-1401.