After a nearly two year long struggle to move forward in Chicago, it now appears that George Lucas has thrown in the towel and will be looking to build his Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in another city. However, this won't be the first time the famed filmmaker and creator of the popular Star Wars franchise moves his project to another city — it will be the third.
Numerous reports are indicating that George Lucas and Chicago-born wife Mellody Hobson have stated that they will be taking their museum project elsewhere, as a lengthy legal challenge from the group Friends of the Parks has all but halted the construction of the $400 million project on Chicago's lakefront. And while the nonprofit advocacy group has decided to wind down their lawsuit against the city to stop the museum from being built on what is currently a parking lot at Soldier Field, the group has announced that it will continue to fight the city against the use of any lakefront site — including the site where the Lakeside Center at McCormick Place stands today.
So, how did we get here? George Lucas originally intended to build his museum in San Francisco, in the protected Presidio park space. After working on his plan for San Francisco for several years, the proposal was ultimately rejected and the filmmaker shifted his focus to Chicago — a city with a powerful mayor, a crippling debt burden and plenty of lakefront land.
However, the proposal for Chicago has struggled since the very beginning. While the original museum site selection just south of Soldier Field made sense to many, it drew criticism from many others — including a federal judge overseeing the lawsuit from Friends of the Parks.
The design for the museum was controversial and drew numerous Star Wars references from detractors. The white, mound-shaped, haloed, museum design from Beijing's MAD Architects was called a "needlessly massive intruder" by the Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin, a "design that R2-D2 would pan" by Crain's Chicago Business' Greg Hinz, and a "land-eating colossus" by former Friends of the Parks president Cassandra Francis. And to make matters even more complicated, the city's recent Hail Mary play to build the museum at McCormick Place would require more than $1 billion in public spending.
However, there were still many who supported the proposal despite its wildly contemporary design and its use of lakefront land. At one point, a petition that requested Friends of the Parks to drop its lawsuit began making its way across the social media networks — ultimately receiving over 1,700 signatures. According to a recent poll on Curbed Chicago, which garnered over 1,700 votes in 36 hours, nearly 40% of the readers polled said that the city should continue to pursue the site at the Soldier Field parking lots, while another 25% said that it was time to give up on the plan.
May the Fourth is the day that Star Wars fans celebrate the famous films and the characters from them. However, it's also the day that the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art plan for Chicago died.
- Lucas team appears to pull plug on museum [Crain's]
- Lucas Museum ‘seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago’ [Chicago Sun-Times]
- Lucas looking outside Chicago as parks group opposes any lakefront museum sites [Chicago Tribune]
- Parks Group Halts Lakefront Lucas Museum Lawsuit [Curbed Chicago]
- Poll: Is It Time to Give Up on the Lucas Museum Plan for Chicago? [Curbed Chicago]