Phone: (949) 476-0294

Past Exhibition:

Along El Camino Real

January 28 - May 18, 2017

“Chinatown, Los Angeles,” 1886
by Alexander Harmer (1856-1925)
Oil on canvas / 19 x 30 inches
The Irvine Museum Collection
at the University of California, Irvine

Click on image to see larger view

The Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine presents “Along El Camino Real,” an exhibit that explores the history of the California missions. These outposts were connected by El Camino Real
(the Royal Road or the King’s Highway), which today approximates Highway 101.

The first mission in what is now California was founded by Spain in San Diego in 1769. Over the next 54 years, 20 more were established, stretching as far north as Sonoma. In 1821, Mexico declared its independence from Spain and claimed California as a province. The missions were greatly restricted during this period, and their vast land holdings were taken away. By 1850, when California became the 31st state of the U.S.A., most missions had been abandoned and were in ruins. It wasn’t until the 1890s, when artists began to portray them as relics of California’s romantic past, that a serious effort was made to preserve and restore the structures.

The earliest views of the California missions in our exhibition are selections from a set of etchings by Henry Chapman Ford (1828-1894) published in 1883. The oldest paintings on display are the “Mission San Juan Capistrano” and “Chinatown, Los Angeles” both painted by Alexander Harmer (1856-1925) in 1886. What is now one of the most beautiful gardens in California is shown as a dry, dusty yard, with just a few geraniums against the pillars of the arcade.

Also on display are works by such noted California artists as Alson S. Clark (1876-1949), Alice Coutts (1879-1973), Edwin Deakin (1838-1923), William Lees Judson (1842-1928), Elmer Wachtel (1864-1929) and William Wendt (1865-1946). These paintings show many of California’s 21 missions. The most popular with artists, however, was our own Mission San Juan Capistrano, whose beauty and elegance earned it the nickname “Jewel of the Missions.”


    18881 Von Karman Avenue, Suite 100
    Irvine, CA 92612
    Click here for directions

    Offices/Bookstore: (949) 476-0294
    Directions: (949) 476-2565


    Museum Open

    Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Museum Closed
    The museum is closed Sunday, Monday, and may be closed for major holidays. Please call ahead.

    Admission is complimentary for all visitors. Donations are gratefully accepted.

    The Irvine Museum validates parking for its visitors.


    The Irvine Museum offers a variety of tours of its exhibitions. A regularly scheduled weekly docent tour is offered every Thursday at 11:15 a.m. Visitors are welcome on this tour without an appointment. In addition, special docent tours are available to groups of ten or more on an appointment basis. Please contact Dora James, Curator of Education, to schedule your group for a tour of our current exhibition.


  • Contact us:
  • Visit our Bookstore
    We have eighteen (18) wonderful and beautifully illustrated books, DVDs and notecards published by The Irvine Museum offered for sale. Click here
  • Patrons of The Irvine Museum
    Help support our expanding outreach programs. Your contribution can make a significant difference. Join today! Click here
  • Join Our Newsletter "The Palette"