Lucas’s Arts

Well, It Looks Like the George Lucas Museum Is Happening

By Chris LaMorte ·
It’s been a great year for new museums. The new Whitney in New York. The Broad in Los Angeles.

And now official word from Chicago: the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art got the blessing from a wizened, contemplative body of Jedi known as the Chicago City Council to, fine, go ahead, build your damn 300,000-square-foot, $400 million spaceship-looking thing on Lake Michigan.

It will house filmmaker George Lucas’s vast art and movie memorabilia collection—as well as narrative art, a broad category ranging from Norman Rockwell to Charles M. Schulz.

But it’s the building itself that’s getting the most attention right now. Love it or hate it: it’s a statement building. And that’s a good thing.

But statements come with controversy. This one’s had plenty.

First, there’s the whole why-is-this-even-in-Chicago question. The fact that Lucas is married to a Chicagoan, businesswoman Mellody Hobson... probably not a disincentive. And apparently, San Francisco—which would seem to be the natural choice, given the nearby Marin County home base of Skywalker Ranch—wasn’t interested in giving up prime real estate in the Presidio national park to house it. Rahm Emanuel, however, opened up coveted property along Lake Michigan—a 99-year lease for $10. Not a bad deal, even in Chicago politics.

Second, there’s a pending lawsuit. Friends of the Parks, a Chicago park preservation organization, sued to prevent the museum from using public land for this site at all. And despite some legislative jujitsu on the part of lawmakers, the suit is winding its way through the court system. Slowly.

Third, oh, yeah: the building itself. Critics were appalled. The sloping, waveform building has been called everything from “Jabba the Hutt by the lake” to simply “weird.”

Is weird so bad?

Like we say: making a statement takes courage. It’s not easy. People may not get it. They may fight you. But that’s how the world evolves. Sure, every once in a while, you end up with a Jar Jar Binks.

But sometimes you get a Boba Fett.

So, keep being weird, George. We want to see where this thing is headed.
Chris LaMorte

Chris LaMorte’s favorite lapel: peak. Favorite bulldog: French. Can you offer him a glass of champagne: yes. Often mistaken for: Zach Galifianakis. Often mistakes himself for: Bradley Cooper.

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