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Alison Gass at the future site of ICA San Francisco. Photo: Ulysses Ortega/ICA San Francisco.
Alison Gass at the future site of ICA San Francisco. Photo: Ulysses Ortega/ICA San Francisco.

San Francisco to Welcome New Institute of Contemporary Art

The Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco (ICA SF), a new noncollecting art museum, will open in summer 2022 in the city’s burgeoning Dogpatch neighborhood. Occupying a refurbished 11,000-square-foot 1940 brick building that once housed a paint company, the museum aims to accommodate programming that can respond swiftly to current events; with its high ceilings and airy space, it will also be able to host installations of large or unusual dimensions. “We want to keep it really open, expansive, and flexible for artists who aren’t necessarily working at a domestic scale,” Alison Gass, the institution’s director, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Gass, previously the director of the unrelated Institute of Contemporary Art San Jose and earlier the director of the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, noted that ICA SF will present work by new local and international artists with an eye toward working against traditional modes of curating. “Now is the moment, more than ever, for art as a lens on the larger social, political and cultural issues to be prioritized,” she said. “I think more than ever, museums are going to be less kind of formal discussions about our historical sort of artistic progression and much more, ‘Let’s learn with and through contemporary art practice how we can be better global citizens.’”

ICA SF is underwritten by the nonprofit Minnesota Street Project Foundation and has been promised $1 million in seed investment money by the Rappaport Family Foundation, a philanthropical organization run by Minnesota Street Project founders Deborah and Andy Rappaport. The museum will offer free admission, and, notably, will pay its staff salaries commensurate with the Bay Area’s high cost of living. “One of the tenets of ICA SF is to address issues of pay equity for artists and staff,” Gass told the New York Times. “Instead of an arms race of collecting, we are committed to paying artists and museum workers an above-average salary for our region.”