CHICAGO (AP) -
“Star Wars” creator George Lucas announced Tuesday that he has picked
Chicago to host his much-anticipated museum of art and movie memorabilia, in
a major victory for the nation’s third-largest city.
San Francisco and
Los Angeles also had sought the museum. Lucas said in a written statement
that he hopes to open the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in 2018.
“I am humbled to be
joining such an extraordinary museum community and to be creating the museum
in a city that has a long tradition of embracing the arts,” the statement
The selection was
somewhat of a surprise, given Lucas’ close ties to California: He is a
native of the state, Lucasfilm’s visual effects division is based in San
Francisco and the headquarters for Lucasfilm and Skywalker Sound is across
the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.
But Chicago Mayor
Rahm Emanuel pushed hard for his city. And Chicago was always given a good
chance at the Lucas museum, in large part because Lucas’ wife, Mellody
Hobson, a prominent businesswoman, is from Chicago and the city closed down
Promontory Point along the Lake Michigan shore so the couple could host a
star-studded party to celebrate after the couple’s California wedding.
For the Lucas
museum, Chicago offered up a slice of real estate along the lakefront that’s
near other attractions, including the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of
Natural History. At the same time, San Francisco suffered a setback when it
rejected Lucas’ first choice of a location near the Golden Gate Bridge.
Emanuel has long
been trying to portray Chicago as a global destination.
decision process, a spokesman for Lucas praised the city for the attention
it heaps on culture, architecture, innovations and education - some of which
are the themes Lucas’ museum will seek to promote.
“Chicago’s a great
city. We have a tradition that resonates closely with the way George Lucas
has described his museum, as a museum of visual storytelling,” said Gillian
Darlow, CEO of Polk Bros. Foundation and a co-chair of Chicago’s site
selection task force. “He wants to help inspire other people, especially
kids, to have bold visions the way he did.”
Emanuel met with
reporters briefly Tuesday evening at City Hall to announce the decision. “I
can’t thank George and Mellody enough,” Emanuel said. He pledged to work
with the community to develop plans for the museum.
Tuesday’s news really didn’t come as much surprise in San Francisco after a
board rejected Lucas’ proposal to build the museum near the Crissy Field, a
former U.S. Army airfield in the Presidio. The board then offered Lucas a
second site near a digital arts center.
“We are very
disappointed to see Mr. Lucas go to Chicago,” said Sam Singer, a spokesman
for the park. “The Presidio Trust turned down his concept for the main
location, but we immediately offered him a second locale.
“He never responded
back to our generous offer.”
Singer said Lucas’
team called Tuesday afternoon with the decision.
San Francisco Mayor
Edwin M. Lee said in a statement that he hopes to continue working with
Lucas and his foundation on “other endeavors that will help educate the
young people of the Bay Area, his home.”