Follow Friday: The ICA

We catch up with the museum's creative content manager to talk about its online presence, and what's sealed at the museum in the upcoming months.

A photo posted by ICA/Boston (@icaboston) on

Follow Friday, at a Glance
Connect with the ICA on Social Media:

facebook Facebook
twitter Twitter: @ICAinBOSTON, @ICAteens
instagram Instagram: @ICABoston, @ICAStore

Backed by power lady and philanthropist Barbara Lee, the Institute of Contemporary Art is on the rise as a word-class modern art museum in our fair city. Since moving from its Back Bay location on Newbury to its waterfront spot in South Boston, the ICA, with its special outdoor concert events and film screenings, claimed its deserving title as a cultural namesake.

Here, we catch up with Kris Wilton, creative content manager at the ICA, to discuss handling social media, the most immersive exhibitions at the museum, and what to expect at the ICA in the upcoming seasons.

How many people run the ICA’s various social media accounts? How do you manage all of them?

There are a lot of folks involved in the planning, from brainstorming content ideas to reaching out to artists to organizing behind-the-scenes photos, but the actual posting comes down to just two of us for the main channels. The ICA Teens and ICA Store operate independently, with one or two people helming each.

What are the goals for the ICA on social media, and where does your content usually come from?

Our goals are threefold: to share content about the art and artists we present, to make sure people know about all the amazing stuff we have going on, and to encourage others to share their experiences and ideas. The content originates from lots of places: from the artists we present, from our curators, and from the incredible work being done by our colleagues in education and elsewhere in the museum. We’re also working to crowdsource more content! Something we have in the works are ICA Kid Reviews. Stay tuned.

Beyond the museum’s exhibitions, the ICA also hosts performances, film screenings, and other special events. What have been some of the most popular events?

There are so many! We had packed houses for recent performances by Mark Morris Dance Group, and for The Long Count/The Long Game, an immersive multimedia experience by artist Matthew Ritchie featuring Aaron and Bryce Dessner from the National, Kelley Deal of the Breeders, and Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond. Our First Fridays—monthly art events featuring guest DJs, live performance, gallery talks, specialty drinks, and more—always draw great crowds. The theme changes every month, so you might experience samba dancing one time and a live blues concert or improv comedy at the next. And our annual Party on the Harbor, coming up May 16, is an amazing time—a dance party with top DJs, open bar, and a really electric feeling.

Can you share some of what’s coming up at the ICA this spring and summer?

In April we’re opening our 2015 James and Audrey Foster Prize exhibition featuring Boston artists, which is going to be really special this year. It’s focusing on performance and artist collaboratives, and the artists are finding all of these incredible ways to use the building and our surroundings. And we have a really impressive show opening in June as well—the first museum survey for Arlene Shechet, a sculptor who does things with ceramics you can’t even imagine. I guess you just have to come see it!

And of course summer is always the ICA’s time to shine; the waterfront on a summer evening just can’t be beat. Our Wavelengths concert series returns this year with a new lineup of indie bands and top DJs on Friday nights. Also returning are two perennial favorites: the Talking Taste series, featuring demos by star Boston chefs, and our free Harborwalk Sounds concerts, a partnership with Berklee College of Music.

Tell me about the ICA’s new book club.

This spring, we launched ICA Reads, a new take on the book club that brings contemporary literature into conversation with contemporary art. There are gallery talks, a discussion guide, an evening with the author, and we’re hoping a lively conversation on social media! The book we’re kicking it off with, Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine, is a powerful, incredibly poignant book about living with racism in the United States today. We can’t wait to hear readers’ reactions.

Any other current/upcoming social initiatives people might not know about?

As part of ICA Reads, we’re inviting readers to share their questions about the book via Twitter: the author, Claudia Rankine, will address some of the best ones at her appearance on April 30.

We regularly feature our favorite ICA-tagged Instagrams in our members’ magazine, and this summer we’re also launching a contest for the best depiction of #ICAsummer. The winner will receive two free tickets to the Wavelengths concert of their choice. Participants just need to tag their image #ICAsummer; the winner will be announced right before Wavelengths kicks off. Follow us for more details.

In three words, describe the voice and tone of the ICA’s social media.

Friendly, enthusiastic, and smart.

Which social media account is the strongest channel for the museum? If you had to pick, which one is the “must-follow”?

That’s a tough call! It’s like picking a favorite child. But if I had to characterize I would say that Twitter is the most informative, Instagram the most fun, and Facebook the best for albums of images from our exhibitions and events.

What’s the most popular part of the museum that people share?

People share beautiful images of the art on view, and of our spectacular building, especially from the John Hancock Founders Gallery overlooking the harbor.

What’s the weirdest, most surprising, or most outspoken feedback you’ve gotten via social media?

I have to say, I think most of our visitors or commenters are pretty tame—I would encourage our followers to unleash their inner weirdness!

Since you’ve been with the ICA, what has been your personal favorite story to share on social media?

My personal favorite was back when the Hilltop Steak House was going out of business, and people were talking on Twitter about what should happen to its iconic sign. We got involved in a silly conversation about how it should go on top of the ICA, and someone created a mockup of it. I thought it was hilarious.