Here’s a Look Inside the ICA’s New East Boston Location, the Watershed

It opens July 4.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

On July 4, you’ll be able to celebrate the nation’s independence with a visit to the city’s newest art museum. That’s when the ICA’s highly anticipated East Boston satellite, called the Watershed, will officially open to the public. We took a peek inside ahead of its grand opening.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

The free museum is located inside a former copper pipe and sheet metal warehouse on the Eastie waterfront. Anmahian Winton Architects was tapped to transform it—the firm embraced the building’s original industrial design, creating non-traditional spaces for exhibitions and studios, as well as a gallery chronicling history of East Boston.

The Watershed is made up of a 15,000-square-foot singular “great room” that’s sandwiched between two existing buildings in an active shipyard. The architects preserved one of the building’s concrete and cinderblock walls, which once supported the loading and unloading of rail cars that ran through the facility delivering supplies. A new roof contains a long, linear skylight window that runs along one edge of the space, shedding light on the original cinderblock wall.

Gigantic hangar doors bookend both sides of the building—one opens to the harbor and views of the skyline, while the other opens to the shipyard. The doors are made of a translucent plastic that allows daylight into both ends of the space. The facility also boasts an outdoor patio along the waterfront, offering views back to the ICA in the Seaport.

“I have had the dream … of connecting both sides of the harbor through the arts, because of the arts’ great potential to stir the soul and spark the conscience and bring people together through culture,” said Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director of the ICA, before a ribbon-cutting on Friday. “So today is a great day.”

Photo by Madeline Bilis

The Watershed’s first exhibition will be Diana Thater’s Delphine. The work, which consists of underwater footage of swimming dolphins, is being reconfigured for the Watershed’s raw space, allowing the exhibition to be projected on its walls through light and videos. The images will spill across the walls, ceiling, and floor of the room, creating an immersive under-the-sea environment for the viewer—fitting for the gallery’s harborside location. Viewers’ own shadows will be visible on the walls, too, appearing to spin and swim alongside the dolphins.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

The Watershed will be open through October 8. After that, it will open seasonally, operating between late May and early October. Visitors at the ICA’s Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed facility in the Seaport will be able to take a six-minute boat ride between the museum’s locations. Water taxi tickets will be free to ICA members, children under 17, and those with an ICA ticket.

See the rest of the space below.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

The Watershed, 256 Marginal St., East Boston, icaboston.org.