UCI’s big get is gift of fine art
That man was in fact Gerald Buck, and inside the building he owned was part of his art collection, admired by insiders as one of greatest collections of California contemporary art in the world. That art will now find a new home in the city of Irvine, after it was announced that Buck, who died in 2013, bequeathed his 3,200-piece collection to UCI.
“The Buck Collection cements UCI’s mission to create one of the nation’s finest centers for the appreciation of California art,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman when the gift was announced in November. “For nearly three decades, these beautiful and important pieces have been kept mostly under wraps. We can’t wait to exhibit these gems to the public.”
The collection includes works by Richard Diebenkorn, Agnes Pelton, Henrietta Shore, Carlos Almaraz, Peter Alexander, Sam Francis, Ruth Asawa, Bruce Conner, Roger Kuntz, Nathan Oliviera, David Park, William Ritschel, Wayne Tiebaud, Paul Wonner, Helen Lundeberg, and many others.
The Buck Collection, which esteemed L.A. Times art critic Christopher Knight described as “the finest holding of its kind in private hands,” will be displayed in a new building “in the exact place architect William Pereira foresaw a museum in his original campus designs,” Gillman said.
UCI also announced an ambitious five-year plan to build a $150 million campus museum to house the Buck Collection, and an academic center for their appreciation, to be called the UCI Museum and Institute for California Art, or MICA. It will also be home to the Irvine Museum collection, 1,200 works of California Impressionism valued at $17 million donated to UCI by Joan Irvine Smith.
The new museum’s location is expected to be at or near the current site of Parking Lot 1, opposite the Irvine Barclay Theatre near the Ray Watson pedestrian bridge that extends across Campus Drive.
“My dad always said that art was meant to be seen and enjoyed by people,” said Christina Buck. “UCI is the perfect match. It makes me so happy that the campus now has the works for students, faculty and, ultimately, people who just love art—like my father did.”