By John Dodge
CHICAGO (CBS) — George Lucas’ highly-coveted museum will be coming to Chicago, the Lucas Museum has confirmed.
The plan is to build the museum on land between Soldier Field and McCormick Place, just a short distance from the Field Museum and Adler Planetarium.
Mayor Emanuel told reporters this is a “tremendous opportunity” for the city.
“No other major American city has these types of cultural and educational institutions with a great Northerly Island creating a vibrant, green museum campus unparalleled in the United States,” said Emanuel.
The “Star Wars” creator picked Chicago over Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“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 LMNA [Lucas Museum of Narrative Art] will add to their vibrant work,” said George Lucas in a statement. “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 release by the LMNA said Lucas hopes to open the museum in 2018.
The Chicago Sun-Times Michael Sneed first reported the news, which sources later confirmed for CBS 2.
The museum will feature the film-maker’s collection of art and movie memorabilia.
Last year, Lucas married Chicago native and investment guru Mellody Hobson, and now has a second home here.
The museum would focus on digital design, filmmaking, animation, and his love of art, especially Norman Rockwell.
“Before George Lucas made the films that he made, we couldn’t even imagine those kinds of films. So that’s how I like to think about the way this museum is going to be. I don’t think we can imagine the kind of museum he’s going to make,” said Gillian Darlow, who served as a co-chair for the city’s museum task force.
There’s excitement among young Lucas fans at the Graham Crackers comic book store in the Loop, where the Star Wars action figures and comic books are still selling.
“They had an exhibit here and I forget which museum it was and I got to see it when I was a kid, and I got a chance to see the Boba Fett suit,” said Juan Garcia.
Not everyone is thrilled with the prospect of the museum being built on the lakefront. Friends of the Parks outreach director Maria Stone says “Friends of the Parks will not support any building on park land.”
The group says it welcomes the Lucas museum to Chicago, but asserts it doesn’t belong on the shore of Lake Michigan.
2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti says there may be a legal challenge to the location.
“I think it’s clear that the Lakefront Protection Ordinance specifically says that in no instance will further private development be permitted east of Lake Shore Drive,” said Fioretti.
Proponents of the site are expected to argue that the museum is a cultural attraction, not a commercial one. The mayor’s museum task force is expected to formally approve the site, perhaps as early as Wednesday.
Lucas originally wanted to build the museum at Presidio National Park, in San Francisco with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, but that was rejected.
The city offered alternative plans, but it Lucas chose Chicago’s proposal instead.