Earlier this week some unfortunate news came out of Chicago concerning George Lucas' proposed museum. After years of planning and many months of controversy surrounding a proposition to build the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Museum in Chicago, Illinois, George Lucas has officially retracted the proposal in response to heavy resistance from the local non-profit organization Friends of the Park. In a statement released on Friday, the Star Wars creator expressed his disappointment with the situation and resilience to move forward with the project and build the museum in California instead. You can read the full press release below:
CHICAGO, June 24, 2016 — The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art announced today that in light of extensive delays caused by Friends of the Parks, Chicago will no longer be considered a potential site for the museum. The board of directors and executive leadership of the museum confirmed that California will be its future home.
“No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot,” said George W. Lucas, founder and chairman of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. “The actions initiated by Friends of the Parks and their recent attempts to extract concessions from the city have effectively overridden approvals received from numerous democratically elected bodies of government.”
The location — a parking lot near Soldier Field — was originally selected by Chicago’s Site Selection Task Force in May 2014 and subsequently approved by the City Council, Park District, Plan Commission, Department of Zoning, Illinois General Assembly and the governor. When the city offered McCormick Place East as an alternative to the parking lot, Friends of the Parks announced plans to block consideration of that location as well as any lakefront site or park in Chicago.
On behalf of his wife, Mellody Hobson, and other members of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Board of Directors, Mr. Lucas expressed gratitude to the many people throughout the community who worked tirelessly to bring the institution to life on Chicago’s Museum Campus. "We are deeply appreciative to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor Bruce Rauner and countless others for all the time and effort they invested in trying to secure the museum for Chicago," said Mr. Lucas.
The education-focused public institution remains dedicated to expanding public understanding and appreciation of narrative art in all its forms, providing inspiration and learning, especially for young people.
Mr. Lucas stated, “While Chicago will not be home to the museum, my wife and I will continue to enthusiastically support a wide variety of educational and cultural activities throughout the city.”
Prior to June of 2014 the museum was originally envisioned to be built at the Presidio in San Francisco near where Lucasfilm headquarters are located. After meeting some backlash over the Presidio location, and some invitations from Chicago city officials, such as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the decision was made to move the project to Chicago. The museum soon drew controversy over it's proposed placement on the Chicago Lakefront, leading to location revisions and eventually a lawsuit being filed by the Friends of the Park in November of 2014. Since then the project has been deadlocked in litigation, forcing Lucas to ultimately return it to his home state of California.
While it is unfortunate to see the Chicago plans fall through, it will be exciting to see the museum finally be able to break ground in the Golden State, weather it be San Francisco, Los Angeles or another city. May the Force be with George Lucas as he continues to work to make this museum a reality!
Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.