Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 11:41 UK

Admission fee is scrapped at ICA

Ekow by Howard Hodgkin. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
The ICA Auction Exhibition features Ekow by Howard Hodgkin

Visitors to The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London can now enjoy art for free.

Entrance to all exhibitions is now free because of a change in licensing rules, which had previously forced them to charge up to a 3 fee.

The first major event that visitors can enjoy is the ICA Auction Exhibition, starting on 11 September.

It includes works donated by Yoko Ono and Damien Hirst, which will be sold to raise funds for the ICA.

As of today, the ICA is free to enter for all visitors - a confirmation of the continuous belief in the open exchange of ideas and attitudes that has always characterised what we do
Artistic director Ekow Eshun

Artistic director Ekow Eshun says the scrapping of admission charges, which comes at the end of the ICA's 60th anniversary celebrations, is "a significant symbol of our future direction".

"As of today, the ICA is free to enter for all visitors - a confirmation of the continuous belief in the open exchange of ideas and attitudes that has always characterised what we do," he added.

The ICA Auction Exhibition showcases works donated by 36 artists who the ICA says "have shaped a contemporary artistic landscape".

They include Ekow by Howard Hodgkin - a portrait of artistic director Eshun - as well as works by Antony Gormley and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

All the works, which include a number made specifically for the exhibition, will be sold at Sotheby's in London on 17 and 20 October to raise money for the ICA.

An ICA spokesman said: "The exhibition is an acknowledgement of the support that the institution has shown.

"Many of the artists had their first exhibition at the ICA and it continues to show new artists at crucial stages in their careers."

Other upcoming highlights include the Nobel Textiles week of exhibitions and events from 14 -21 September.

The week shows the results of the pairing up of five Nobel-winning scientists with five textile designers.


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