UC Irvine’s growing north campus has been chosen as the future home of the Jack and Shanaz Langson Institute and Museum of California Art.

Museum and university officials chose the location for the Langson IMCA, as it is being called, intentionally, said Museum Director Kim Kanatani, because of its proximity to the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve, as well as the planned healing gardens at UCI’s expanding health campus still under development.

“Its adjacency to nature is very critical for the museum,” Kanatani said.  “It really resonates with our collections.”

More than 3,000 works of modern art in a variety of mediums collected by Gerald Buck, a longtime Orange County developer who died in 2013, as well as more than 1,000 works of impressionist and plein air art donated by James Irvine Swinden from the former Irvine Museum collection, will be available to the museum’s galleries. And since those two large donations in 2016 and 2017, Kanatani said even more people have donated pieces to the Langson IMCA, further growing its collection. ​​

The museum was named in late 2021 following a donation from Jack and Shanaz Langson.

“The new museum and institute will be an exceptional resource for art lovers and scholars,” Swinden said.

And with such a large collection already amassed, Kanatani said her team will get a jump start now on their mission of sharing and engaging audiences through art, though the museum’s building along Campus Drive, near Jamboree Road, it still a couple of years from construction.

“We really don’t want to wait to welcome people and then build audiences. We are building audiences now,” Kanatani said. “We’re working hard to engage audiences in the range of collections that we have on California art.”

The first such exhibit, “Variations of Place,” will open in June at the museum’s interim site on Von Karman Avenue – previously the location of The Irvine Museum. It will feature 30 California impressionist paintings from 20 different artists, Kanatani said.

Beginning in August, a second exhibit will open in a UCI campus gallery, while the fall will bring a new exhibit at the interim museum and a virtual exhibit for online audiences, Kanatani said.

While programming begins, museum officials expect to hire a consultant this year to continue the planning and budgeting for the new location, before hiring an architect, ideally next year, Kanatani said. Construction could begin in 2024, though she noted the project is still subject to approval by the UC Board of Regents.

“We’re most excited about our vision for the project – to really realize a new museum and institute as the epicenter for California art,” Kanatani said, “a cultural catalyst for Orange County and beyond.

“California art is a story that has not been fully told and we have the honor and privilege and responsibility to make every effort to tell that story.”