George Lucas Selects Chicago as Home for Narrative Art Museum

George Lucas

George Lucas has selected Chicago to be the home of his museum of art and movie memorabilia. The highly anticipated decision comes after the Windy City battled both San Francisco and Los Angeles to land the facility.

The museum, projected to open in 2018 on the city’s 17-acre Museum Campus site, will house a collection of treasures ranging from Norman Rockwell paintings, examples of special effects that Lucas pioneered at Industrial Light & Magic, the visual effects company founded by the filmmaker. Other film memorabilia to be displayed will include a scale model of the Millennium Falcon, the fictional spacecraft commanded by Han Solo in the original “Star Wars” trilogy.

A vote by the museum’s board to make the decision official is expected Wednesday. The board is also expected to change the name of the museum to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The Chicago Tribune first reported the news Tuesday.

The decision to select Chicago as the museum’s location reflects Lucas’ vision for the collection’s future, to be supported by Chicago’s tourism draw, as well as an aggressive lobbying effort by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“Choosing Chicago is the right decision for the museum,” Lucas said in a statement. “But a difficult decision for me personally because of my strong personal and professional roots in the Bay Area.”

A native of Modesto, Calif., Lucas attended film school in Southern California and spent much of his career in the Bay Area, though he has recently lived part time in Chicago with his wife Mellody Hobson, chairman of the board of DreamWorks Animation. The museum pact comes nearly two years after months after Lucas sold his Lucasfilm empire to Disney for $4.1 billion.

Pending approval of the Chicago Plan Commission, the museum will be built in a prime location between Chicago’s Soldier Field and McCormick Place. Officials said the building plan would include incorporating more green space around the facility.

“No other museum like this exists in the world, making it a tremendous educational, cultural and job creation asset for all Chicagoans, as well as an unparalleled draw for international tourists,” Emanuel said.

Some of the collection can be seen at lucasmuseum.org.

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  1. Kevin Houlihan says:

    It is so saddening to hear this news! In a time plagued by productions leaving the California roots in favor of tax incentives that only support the bottom line versus recognizing the infrastructure and experience that helped boom the film industry in the 70’s and 80’s…yet again we see a legend in film making leaving the state and denying his roots. I realize this is less about a tax incentive, but given Lucas’ string ties to the Bay Area and the “Home” of his company, one has to wonder what financial benefit the Windy City offered up. Art or Commerce.?..it’s clear what prevails in this galaxy.

    • fred says:

      It was reported that SF turned down Lucas’ location request (near the GG bridge), and with his wife from Chicago it made it a natural choice.

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