George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars franchise, has chosen Chicago as the location of The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art set to showcase his art and film memorabilia. The Windy City beat out both San Francisco and Los Angeles as possible destinations for what has been described as a “Star Wars museum,” but will also feature populist art owned by the filmmaker as well as “a number of Norman Rockwell paintings.” The museum is set to open its doors in 2018.
“We are honored to be partnering with the city of Chicago and the many cultural, educational, and community groups that have come forward with ideas about how the (museum) will add to their work,” Lucas said in a press release. “I am humbled to be joining with such an extraordinary museum community.”
Before Chicago was officially chosen as the location of the museum, it appeared much more likely that San Francisco would be chosen as the museum destination, even more so than Los Angeles where the film director has had roots in Hollywood for over forty years. The California native’s visual effects division has long been based out of San Francisco while LucasFilm and Skywalker Sound are located nearby in Marin County. But when Lucas’ first choice of housing the museum near the Golden Gate Bridge fell through, it appears that Chicago took the upper hand.
However, Lucas does have some comfortability with Chicago as his wife Mellody Hobson, who is the Chair of Dreamworks Animation, grew up in the city. Additionally, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reportedly been pushing hard to bring the museum to the city which he has recently been pushing as a global destination with plenty of historical significance. According to reports, the facility will cost an estimated $1 billion, but “would generate between $2 billion and $2.5 billion of additional tourist spending and significant tax revenue over ten years.”
The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be housed in Chicago’s lakefront museum campus on a 17-acre site located on parking lots between McCormick Place and Soldier Field. The museum itself is completely self-funded and will be built, funded, and endowed by Lucas. It has been characterized as a chance to convey the “history of storytelling” and the “visual image,” while also housing the world’s largest interactive museum.
Emanuel was ecstatic in a statement when the news was announced. “George Lucas has revolutionized the art of storytelling over the last four decades and we are honored to be the recipient of this incredible legacy investment that will allow everyone to learn about and experience narrative arts,” he said. “Like Marshall Field, John G. Shedd, and Max Adler before him, George’s philanthropy will inspire and educate for generations. 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.” He also added that the museum would bring “hundreds of jobs and economic opportunity.”