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UCI Plots New Calif. Art Museum

The University of California, Irvine plans to add some culture alongside its sizeable healthcare development going up on the northern edge of its campus.

The school says it is moving ahead with plans to open a new museum and research institute on land it owns overlooking the vistas of the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve in Irvine.

The Jack and Shanaz Langson Institute and Museum of California Art, otherwise known as the Langson IMCA, will sit on Campus Drive, adjacent to its $1.3 billion hospital and medical complex project now going up along Jamboree Road.

Construction on Langson IMCA is expected to begin in the next two to three years, school officials said. A cost for the project hasn’t been determined yet, and an architect has yet to be selected.

“When finished, it will be a beacon for city residents and all of Orange County,” Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan said in a statement.

It’s one of several museum projects currently on the books for Orange County.

The new Orange County Museum of Arts at Segerstrom Center for the Arts is set to open this October, at a cost of nearly $93 million, and Chapman University plans to nearly triple the size of its Hilbert Museum (see story, this page).

Langson IMCA

Langson IMCA’s interim museum was established in 2017 following the acquisition of two collections of California art: The Irvine Museum Collection, the personal collection of Irvine family heiress Joan Irvine Smith, and The Buck Collection, that of local developer Gerald E. Buck.

“I’m happy that the works my dad collected will go on display in such a beautiful setting, near a nature preserve,” Gerald Buck’s daughter, Christina Buck, said in a statement.

Totaling over 4,500 pieces, the permanent collection spans from California Impressionism to postwar and contemporary styles.

Notable artists include nature painters Franz Bischoff and Jessie Arms Botke and abstract sculptor Ruth Asawa.

The museum said it works with 19 local school districts to provide various education programs, including Virtual School Visits and Artists in Residence.

The collection currently rotates between various pop-up sites and campus galleries; Langson IMCA’s current 2,500-square-foot space on Von Karman Avenue will reopen in early June, according to officials.

James Irvine Swinden, who shepherded the Irvine Museum Collection for over three decades before donating the artwork to UCI, added: “The new museum and institute will be an exceptional resource for art lovers and scholars.”

Construction Plans

According to Museum Director Kim Kanatani, the future museum and research institute will “serve as a vibrant hub for discovery, exchange and engagement.”

It will house both permanent and temporary exhibitions.

The size of the museum hasn’t yet been determined. The project still needs sign off from the UC Board of Regents before moving ahead.

Officials report the school has received about $200 million in support for the new museum, factoring in the value of donated art collections along with financial contributions through its ongoing Brilliant Future Campaign.

Jack Langson, along with his wife and fellow UCI Foundation trustee, Shanaz, made a naming gift of an undisclosed amount late last year to jump-start plans for the new building.

Officials say the museum is actively seeking more fundraising, and multiple naming opportunities inside of the building remain. 

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Audrey Kemp
Audrey Kemp
Audrey Kemp is a staff reporter and occasional photojournalist for the Orange County Business Journal. Her beats include — but are not limited to — healthcare, startups, and education. While pursuing her bachelors in literary journalism at UC Irvine, she interned for New York-based magazine Narratively Inc., wrote for Costa Mesa-based lifestyle magazine Locale, and covered the underground music scene for two SoCal-based music publications. She is an unwavering defendant of the emdash and the Oxford comma.
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