I is for


I is for


Exterior façade of ICA. Architects: Prescott Santos and Associates (1990).

Archival Quotes


Letter from Joel S. Berger to Chester E. Tucker

"Mrs. [Ti-Grace] Sharpless and Prof. Thomas Godfrey came to me some time ago, mid-August as I recall, asking that we prepare and distribute a news release to announce the establishment of the Institute. The initial exhibition will open to the public October 19 in the Furness building.

At the time of the visit by Mrs. Sharpless and Mr. Godfrey, the Institute had not been officially approved by the Trustees. There was some question whether it would be an “institute” or would be designated by another title.”


“The Institute of Contemporary Art” (memo with no stated author)

“The greatest cultural need of the Philadelphia area in the 1960’s is for an organization which will keep constantly before the Philadelphia public the most recent developments in the art of our own time.

The Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania is designed to fulfill this need. […] the Institute will carry out a program of public exhibitions and lectures dedicated to the art of today and tomorrow, and to that of yesterday only insofar as it points directly to the future. The Institute will thus not conflict with but complement the wider program offered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

It is expected that the Institute will make mistakes. Contemporary art is not a “safe” field of endeavor, and the Institute welcomes the risks and the excitement essential to a program dedicated to a living, breathing art of this very moment. Only through a commitment to adventure can the future development of art be kept vital and strong.”


Report to the Advisory Committee of the Institute of Contemporary Art

“We can reasonably suggest that the Institute has also demonstrated its potential value on a wider scale. Both professional magazine reviews and general news reports on the first exhibits such as Art News, Art Forum, Time magazine, the Nation, and others, and word of mouth reports of visitors who have come from as far as the west coast to see them attest to the positive impression already made on individuals and groups who had previously had little or no contact with Philadelphia or the University of Pennsylvania.”


Advisory Board Meeting

“Dean Perkins stated that the Institute has a two fold purpose: 1. Bring art to the city; 2. Bring art to the campus.”


Institute of Contemporary Art, Ad Hoc Committee Report

“Underlying this commitment [to ICA’s future direction] is the fundamental belief that there is a growing public interest in contemporary art, and in particular in the Philadelphia area.”

Archive Highlights