UC Irvine Selects North Campus Site for Museum

James Swinnerton, Sunset in Monument Valley, about 1988. The Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine

UC Irvine will build its Jack and Shanaz Langston Institute and Museum of California Art on Campus Drive near Jamboree Road. This will not be the center-of-campus museum envisioned in architect William Pereira's 1962 master plan. The chosen site is about 2 miles—a brisk 40 minute hike—from the main part of campus. The so-called North Campus location on Jamboree Road will be adjacent to a new medical complex and may give the museum greater visibility to those outside the UCI community. 

The Langston IMCA is to hold the collections of 20th-century landscapes and California modernism and contemporary art assembled by Joan Irvine Smith and Gerald Buck, respectively.

An architect is expected to be named in mid 2023, and construction may begin in late 2024 to early 2025—all subject to the elastic timelines of museum projects.

Lorser Feitelson, Magical Space Forms, 1952. Buck Collection at University of California, Irvine


Anonymous said…
People with creative or technical skill - or both - are widespread enough, that who ends up receiving the most fame and fortune is often a matter of good luck, good timing and good cultural-political power plays.
Anonymous said…
Who writes UCI's news releases? The news release at the link above tries to justify the site selection by claiming that colocating the hospital and museum will "promote healing through art."

The site is a problem because it's too far from the main campus to encourage casual and frequent interaction (by students) with the collection. (If the students feel they "own" the collection, they might become collectors themselves.)

I also wonder if the scope and quality of the collection merits a more publicly-accessible location.
Anonymous said…
Out of curiosity, I went to the UCI museum website to look at highlights of the collection (i.e., the Buck Collection).

Then, I searched the collections of MOMA (New York) and the Whitney (New York) for works by the same "highlighted" artists.

The overwhelming majority of the artists which constitute the highlights of the Buck Collection do not have works in the MOMA or Whitney collection. Of the two to three artists with works in the MOMA/Whitney collection, none of the works are on view. Typically, that means the work is not seminal, but secondary.

While at the UCI museum website, I also took note of the recent acquisitions, more of the same schlock donated by OC rich people who want a tax break.

... UCI should have known better than to start a tax shelter and call it a museum.
I'm pretty sure the UCI museum isn't intended to be Orange County's answer to the Whitney or MoMA(!) Its purpose is to tell the story of modernism in California, which (as you indicate) is barely acknowledged by East Coast institutions. While LACMA, MOCA, OCMA, and the Laguna Art Museum collect this material, they haven't shown it consistently. In many cases the Buck collection has multiple good-to-first-rate examples of an artist, while LACMA or OCMA has just one.

The 2018 show "First Glimpse" gave a better view of the Buck Collection that the website does. See my write-up here:

Anonymous said…
Maybe some of it is NOT acknowledged because it isn't any good.

Maybe it doesn't get shown consistently because it is NOT that significant.

Maybe there is NO East Coast bias, just a lot of mediocre, regional art.

Understandably, UCI is very late to the game. And, this may be the best they can do. Clearly, Gerald Buck was not Orange County's answer to Katherine Dreier (Societe Anonyme). Let's not pretend it's anything more than what it is.

Peter Plagens said…
Anonymous (why would someone have to remain anonymous in a comment about an art museum? we talkin' vested interest here?) is wrong.

1. From the specs & repros I can get on the web, the work in the collect is *not* "isn't very good."

2. "...doesn't get shown consistently": Every museum anywhere has perfectly reputable works of art in its collection that don't get shown consistently.
3. There's long been an East Coast bias against West Coast art. It's lessened greatly over the years since the publication(s) of my book, "Sunshine Muse: Contemporary Art on the West Coast" (1972, 2000).

4. Judging negatively the legitimacy of the Buck Collection in the negative by citing the lack of its artists being included in MoMA's collection, while at the same dismissing the idea that there's been an East Coast bias against California art is, well, strange.

5. Weird pick--Katherine Dreier--to diss the Buck Collection. Hardly parallel, and then there's, like, Philadelphia in the equation.
K.L. Francis said…
I haven't decided how I feel about the site selection. On campus, across from the Barclay Theater, at or near Pereira's original master plan location, made much sense. My thought was it might draw more attention and visits to what remains an insular campus, geographically.

But perhaps that's the point: choosing the Newport Beach-adjacent edge of campus, on an increasingly activated stretch of Jamboree Boulevard (including the $1.3 billion medical complex), will bring the museum more visibility and ease of access. Especially if it's an architectural significant building. And recall IMCA will be in compeition for donor dollars with OCMA, and the new Thom Mayne-designed museum opening this October (scroll up for more).

As for the Buck Collection, I'm not an expert so I asked several people who are (curators, collectors, academics, etc.) what they would choose from the collection, if given the chance to take one work home. Here's the 2019 magazine article that resulted, with images and insights of/about the work.

After seeing selections from the Buck Collection, Irvine will be on my pilgrimage list when I next go west.
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