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Visual Story Guide
Institute of Contemporary Arts
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This Visual Story Guide explains useful and helpful information about your visit to the ICA and about our institution, using pictures and accessible text. 

This guide is for our ICA program events in the Lower Gallery, Cinema screens, Stage and Bar. 

This guide is not to be referred to if you are attending a private hire event.

Before your visit

Useful info and how to get here
Transport links: Tube and Bus
Transport links: Uber / Taxi drop off and wheelchair access
What is close by: nearby landmarks
Entrance & exit
Alternative entrance

When you are here: what is available for you

Age restrictions and concessions
Good Night Out statement and requirements
Who you will meet
What is available for you
Wheelchairs available for you
Quiet areas
Useful spaces

When you are here: our building and spaces

Directions through the building
Lower Gallery exhibition space
Sensory map
Live performances / Stage
Bar / Cafe space
Fire exits

After your visit

Using our website
What you can do after your visit

Useful info and how to get here

Opening Hours


Tuesday to Thursday
4pm – 11pm

Friday to Sunday
12pm – 11pm

EXHIBITION closes at 9pm
BAR closes at 10pm


Relaxed Hours

4 – 5pm weekdays
2 – 3pm weekends

Quiet times to visit the galleries are Wednesdays and Thursdays, particularly 4 – 5pm.

If you require an empty gallery space in order to comfortably and safely visit our exhibitions, for example if you are neurodivergent or if you are shielding, please contact access@ica.art


The Mall, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5AH  View on maps 

Closest Tube stations

Piccadilly Circus
520 steps

Charing Cross
590 steps

Closest Bus stops

Note: no bus route goes to the Mall directly.

T    Trafalgar Square
222 steps

P    Haymarket / Charles II Street
370 steps

C    Museum Street

1628 steps

Bicycle parking and Santander Bicycle hire are located at the top of the Duke of York steps.

Uber / Taxi / Car drop-off

12 Carlton House Terrace for parking

Parking hours and times
Mon to Sat, 8:30am – 6:30pm

Resident permit holders.

Pay by phone 020 7125 9090 or text 07860 022 205 quoting location 6375.

We do not have any parking on The Mall. However, car and taxi drop-offs are possible (please note that at times The Mall is restricted to traffic). This is subject to change with road closures. Please see our website.

Wheelchair Access

The Mall entrance has wheelchair access.

Carlton House Terrace entrance has a ramp and lift, but a transfer to a standard chair is required. No motor wheelchairs in the lift.

Inside of lift
width 0.87m, depth 0.81m

Ground floor entrance
width 0.57m

First floor entrance
width 0.59m

If you are in a motorised chair we need to assist you into a standard chair:

Black hard-back chair
50 × 50 × 50 cm

Fold-out wheelchair
40 × 37 × 45 cm

What is close by: nearby landmarks

(Click the map to expand)

This is your Entrance and Exit

The Mall, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5AH

Main locations to find us from:
  • The Duke of York steps
  • The end of The Mall closest to Trafalgar Square

The Mall

  • Step-free entrance
  • Automatic sliding doors
  • Access via Admiralty Arch
  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Only access animals are permitted

This is our main entrance on The Mall. This is the main public entrance we recommend visitors to use.

If it is better for you to arrive via our 12 Carlton House Terrace entrance then this can be arranged with our receptionist.

If you are unsure that you are at the right entrance or location, please ask our Public Advisors at the main desk, who are more than happy to help.

Toilets here can be used without purchasing anything from us.

Please use this email to organise access requirements in advance:

You can use this phone number on the day of arrival for help:

Alternative Entrance

12 Carlton House Terrace, St. James’s
London SW1Y 5AH

Temporary ramp is accessible here for the 6 stairs into the building.

This is our private staff and hire entrance on Carlton House Terrace. You can use this entrance if you are unable to access our main entrance on The Mall.

We can arrange your arrival with our receptionist or Operations & Visitor Services Manager.

There is a small passenger lift, but it is not large enough to accommodate a person using most large motorised wheelchairs. The individual would be required to transfer from their wheelchair into a chair placed in the lift, and our staff would transport the wheelchair separately. The passenger lift is not in a public area. Our staff will be happy to assist with this process but it will not be suitable for those who are unable to transfer from their wheelchair, or those using a motorised wheelchair.

Inside of lift width 87cm, depth 81cm.

Ground floor entrance width 57cm.

First floor entrance width 59cm.

To organise access requirements in advance email access@ica.art

If you are unsure that you are at the right entrance or location, please call 07921860302


Age restrictions and concessions

Film certification

All films are ad-free and 18+ unless otherwise stated.

The screenings start with 10 min of curated trailers before each film. These trailers are all 18+ as well.

Children can be accompanied by an adult for screenings.

Ticket prices and concessions

Visitors with a National Disabled Identification Card are entitled to a free exhibition ticket as well as the concessionary rate for all events.

Please bring proof of concession with you when you collect your tickets.

Free tickets are also available for companions or assistants where required.

Book by emailing access@ica.art 
Or via telephone on 0207 930 3647 (Tue to Sun, 4:30 – 6pm)

Free for visitors where ticket prices are a barrier.

To request a complimentary ticket please email details to our Access Coordinator millie.wright@ica.art who will discreetly process your enquiry.

You will receive a printed ticket when you purchase at the Information & Sales desk. If you book online and also want to receive a printed ticket, you can request this once you arrive at the Information & Sales desk before your event.

Good Night Out statement and requirements

Everyone is welcome and respected at the ICA.

There is no place for any form of discrimination or harassment here.

If you experience or witness anything that makes you uncomfortable, please speak to a member of staff wearing an ICA lanyard. Staff are trained to support.

Please treat our staff and visitors with kindness and respect.

More info can found at ica.art/safety

Who you will meet

Public Advisors

Operations & Visitor Services Manager

All staff will be wearing an ICA lanyard, you can use this to identify us if you need any assistance.

Places you will expect to find our Public Advisors:

  • Front Desk / Information & Sales
  • Foyer
  • Cinema 1 and Cinema 2
  • Bookshop
  • Lower Gallery
  • Bar / Cafe
  • Stage


Our Security are only present when we have large capacity events such as gigs in the Stage and exhibition openings.

Bag searches happen at these large capacity events.

What is available for you

At the front desk

  • Assistance
  • Ear plugs
  • Ear defenders
  • Hearing induction loop
  • Large print Exhibition Guide
  • Blankets for the cinema
  • Sensory Map
  • Exhibition Guide
  • Water
  • Hand sanitiser

In the building

  • 3 fold out wheelchairs
  • Hard back chairs to take into the gallery space

Chair dimensions

Black hard-back chair:
50 × 50 × 50 cm

Fold-out wheelchair:
40 × 37 × 45 cm

Our Fold-Out Wheelchairs

A  Push Handle
B  Backrest
C  Rear wheel with handrim
D  Parking brake
E  Front fork
F  Leg rests
G  Foot rests
H  Frame
I  Seat
J  Arm rest

Quieter Areas


The Snug will be open during your visit. You can use this space if you feel like you need to take a break.

This space will be available for visitors to use until 10pm. You enter this space from the Bar / Cafe area.

The Snug is not a private place and you may have to share this space with other visitors during your visit.

The space has low level lighting and white walls with framed editions. There is no music played here, it is a quieter space.

ICA programme events very rarely use the space, however, in the event that it is used for programme events or private hire this will be displayed outside on a notice board.

Useful Spaces


Contains: mixed gender, baby changer, accessible toilet.

The bathrooms in the foyer and bar are for all genders and do not contain urinals, there are also separate male and female toilets near the Upper Gallery.

In every ground floor set of toilets there are 4 cubicles. The set of toilets closest to the main door entrance also has an accessible toilet.

Each cubicle also has a different coloured light: red, blue or green. The accessible toilet has a standard white light.

  • Accessible toilet is marked on the outside, with a wheelchair symbol
  • The door slides open and close via a handle
  • There are grab bars at the side of the toilet
  • The toilet flushes by a sensor, which is behind you
  • Roll under sink in the toilet
  • Lifting tap faucets
  • Twist lock
  • Width: 7 x 5’4 ft

Information & Sales

When you arrive, you’ll meet the ICA Information & Sales team. Public Advisors will greet you at the front desk. They will either take your name and give you a sticker / ticket so you can enter the programmed event, or sell you a ticket.

They will also have sensory maps, visual stories and gallery guides if you’d like one for your visit.

The Information & Sales desk and Cinemas are equipped with an induction loop system for visitors using hearing aids. Events may be BSL translated or have other accessibility enhancements.

Information Station

This is the first part of the exhibition, situated between the Foyer and the Gallery entrance. Here you will find the exhibition video, which you can listen to through the headphones. As well as Large Print exhibition guides and Sensory Maps. Content warnings specific to the exhibition will also feature here.


This is the corridor leading from the Foyer to the Bar. You don’t need to buy a ticket to enter this space. We have our Artists’ Editions installed along the length of the concourse. There are also small benches positioned along, please feel free to use these.

Gallery ramp and entrance

You can enter the Gallery space via 5 steps with a handrail, or via the ramp. You do not need to queue or show a ticket to enter, our exhibition Public Advisors will look out for your sticker, which would have been handed to you at the front desk. You can pick up a gallery stool before you enter the exhibition from the main desk if you think you’ll need seating during your visit.


The Bookshop with be open throughout our usual open hours. If you need help here, please ask any of our Public Advisors.  

Located in the main foyer at ground level. This area is wheelchair accessible.


The cafe is open throughout our usual opening hours. Please feel welcome to take a seat here on the small tables and stools provided or to order a drink/ food.

There is ground level access to the Foyer and Cafe space from The Mall, which includes one set of automatic sliding doors.

All walking areas within the building are kept clear at all times. Our Public Advisors and cafe staff are available to assist you with whatever you may need.


Directions through the building


Both our Cinemas have step free access from our main Mall entrance and are accessible by ramp. The screens are opened 10 minutes before the advertised film time starts, we then play 10 minutes of trailers before the film begins.

If you require a certain screening to provide captions, please contact access@ica.art. We can try and arrange this for you depending on availability. If screenings are captioned, then this is stated on the film listings on our website.

There is unassigned seating. If you require a specific seat, please reserve this in advance via the access@ica.art  email.

These are our seat size dimensions
W 42 × D 45 × H 52 cm

Arm rest either side of the seat
L 27 × W 7 × H 20 cm

All seats are hard back, have a crushed velvet feel and they do not recline.

Cinema 1

We have a wheelchair allocated space with a seat for a companion next to it. This space is in front of the door and has easy access, with a view of the screen from the middle of the room and on the right-hand side.

This is what your view looks like from the wheelchair space:

This is our seat map for Cinema 1, there is unassigned seating:

Cinema 2

We have a removable seat to create a wheelchair allocated space, this space is in the front row of the room and on the right-hand side of the screen. Please contact access@ica.art to organise this prior to the screening date and time.

This is what your view looks like from the wheelchair space:  

This is our seat map for Cinema 2, there is unassigned seating:

Please do not touch artworks, you can use the icons indicated in this visual story and in the sensory map for further references.

You need to purchase a ticket to the exhibition at the Information & Sales desk or online.

At the desk you will receive a sticker which validates your entry into the gallery. On Tuesdays entry is free.

Feel free to take photos of all artworks in this exhibition and share your experience by tagging

No food or drink in this space.

There is a wheelchair accessible path using the concourse and the ramp into the exhibition space. Our exhibition Public Advisors can help assist you with this.

There are also 5 steps into the Lower Gallery space that you can use as an alternative entrance, these steps have a handrail.

The Lower Gallery is lit by overhead strip lights. The light levels in these spaces can also be dependent on the weather, time of day and exhibition.

There is a smaller gallery room on the left-hand side of the Lower Gallery. There is also a small ramp into this space.

See our sensory map of the exhibition for more information:

Live performances / Stage

Our live performances and gigs are usually held in our Stage space. This space can be very dark, busy and hot. If you require a more comfortable space please contact us in advance or find one of our staff members at the event.

Some events may feature strobe, haze effects, low light levels, or include loud volume audio. We will include the relevant information on each specific event page.

Audiences are always welcome to come and go from the Stage during ICA performances. You are not required to remain in your seat or space if you feel uncomfortable.

The Stage space has step free access via The Mall entrance and lift. The lift in the Stage is self-controlled with hand control, two buttons for up and down (max weight 300kg). It is without sides and a vertical pole you can hold on to. It is a quiet lift to operate and will not disrupt the performance. Our Public Advisors can also assist.

Raised Accessible Platform

There is a raised accessible platform at the back of the Stage, this platform can accommodate either 2 wheelchairs and 2 companion seats or 3 theatre seats and 3 companion seats.

There are five steps down into the performance space.

You can exit and enter via the Stage main door; we only use our fire exit routes in the case of an emergency.

This is what your view looks like from the accessible platform:

 We welcome all questions and will always try to help if you have particular requirements.

Please email access@ica.art or call 0207 930 3647 if you have further questions.

Bar / Cafe space


Opening hours:
4pm – 11pm

The cafe is in the Foyer and open from 4pm – 11pm daily, you can order food and drink here. Please feel welcome to take a seat on the small tables and stools provided. There is ground level access from The Mall, which includes one set of automatic sliding doors. 

If you do not want to sit in this space or it is too busy, please head to our Bar area for more seating.


Opening hours:
Tue – Thu 5pm – 11pm
Fri – Sun 3pm – 11pm

Lower Bar

The Bar / Cafe has two levels. The Lower Bar is on the ground level. The Upper Bar is only accessible via a staircase of 10 vertical steps, with handrails on both sides.

Table service is available for those who cannot use the stairs by speaking to a member of the Bar staff.

Please use these spaces to relax, eat, drink or even work. Both areas can get busier during the evening if we have live events on. They are usually quieter during the daytime. Music is played in these spaces.

No food and drink is allowed from outside.

Upper Bar

The Upper Bar is at times booked for book launches, private hires and patrons’ dinners. In these times it is not accessible to the public. Please use our Lower Bar and Snug as alternative spaces if these are free.

Fire Exits

Mall Entrance / Exit



Lower Gallery

Stage Exit 1 (steps)

Stage Exit 2 (ramp)

If you hear these loud noises during your visit, this is a fire alarm.

First you will hear a siren alternating between 2 pitches.

Then you will hear a voice say ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please. Due to circumstances beyond our control, it has become necessary to evacuate the building. Please leave the building immediately, by the nearest exit. Do not use the lifts.

This sequence will be repeated until the alarm is turned off.

Listen to our staff and exit the building by following the fire exit signs.


Using our Website

We also use Night Mode on our website.

Once you have arrived on our website ica.art, please click on the button ‘Got it’ to navigate through to changing the website to how it fits best for you.

Try it out with the sun/moon icon at the top left. Or change font settings with the ‘A’ to make the site work best for you.

It is possible to increase (or decrease) the size of all the text on the pages of most websites. You can do this by using the font size controls integrated in your web browser.

What you can do after your visit

If you have visited our cinema then you will receive a complimentary ticket to our exhibition space.

The Lower Gallery exhibition is also always free on Tuesdays.

The galleries and building may become busier and louder.

You are welcome to stay in the exhibition or go back in after taking a break in the Cafe / Bookshop. Show the member of staff outside the entrance to the exhibition your sticker to re-enter the Lower Gallery.

Other places to visit close to the ICA
  • Visit St James’ Park
  • Walk around Westminster to see the landmarks

Food options close by
You can buy cafe food and drink from our ICA bar throughout our opening hours
  • Whole Foods
  • Sandwich Express
  • Wrights of London
  • Tesco
  • Pret

Other gallery recommendations close to ICA
  • Sadie Coles HQ
  • The Royal Academy
  • Mall Galleries
  • White Cube Masons Yard
  • National Gallery


We hope that you have found this Visual Story Guide useful. It is a document that is under constant review as our building adapts and programme changes.

There will always be more information to add and we would love to hear from you about suggestions and changes that we can make, to create an accessible document that is as robust as possible.

If you have any suggestions or changes to discuss with us about the Visual Story Guide please email millie.wright@ica.art

We also constantly monitor feedback from our Information & Sales team. If you would like to mention anything to our Public Advisors, this will be passed on.

For general feedback about our wider programme and operations please email feedback@ica.art

For more specific access requirements and enquiries please email access@ica.art