By Shelby Lin Erdman
(CNN – June 25, 2014) — The Force was with Chicago. The Windy City beat out other cities, including a contentious battle against San Francisco, winning the bid to build an interactive museum for “Star Wars” creator George Lucas.
“This is a milestone for the city,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday after the decision was announced. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the city.”
The decision was a stunning upset for San Francisco. Lucas has plenty of ties to the Bay Area. He’s from Modesto, California, and built his Skywalker ranch complex in Marin County north of the city. He started other ventures over the years also based in the Bay Area, including Lucasfilm Ltd.
Lucas said in a news release Tuesday that choosing Chicago over San Francisco was the “right decision for the museum, but a difficult decision for me personally because of my strong personal and professional roots in San Francisco.”
San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee said there was a lot of support for the Lucas museum in his city. But Lee also said he understood why the iconic movie producer searched for sites in other cities for the cultural center.
“The Presidio Trust unwisely rejected Mr. Lucas’ proposal for a site near Crissy Field, which … forced Mr. Lucas to look to cities like Chicago, and put San Francisco’s chance at landing the museum in jeopardy,” Lee said in a statement Tuesday
The location for the future Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago, along the city’s famed lakefront as part of what’s known as the museum campus, was a deciding factor. Chicago was chosen “because of the quality of the site proposed by the city’s task force. The 17-acre site offers unparalleled visitor access,” a news release said.
The campus is already home to the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium.
Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, also calls Chicago home. She’s the president of Chicago-based Ariel Investments and sits on numerous corporate boards.
The new museum
The Chicago task force picked the location for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art based on the site’s accessibility to public transportation and easy access. But the potential to create green spaces was important, too.
To accommodate the museum, existing parking spaces will be moved underground and acres of asphalt will be replaced with more parkland along the harbor, museum officials said in statement.
Final plans for the construction of the museum are expected this fall.
The museum will display some of Lucas’ extensive collection of artwork, including paintings by Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth. It will also feature his large collection of movie posters and memorabilia, including props from his “Star Wars” films and others.
The museum is also billed as a “gathering place to experience narrative art and the evolution of the visual image — from illustration to cinema to digital arts,” according to a news release.
“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,” said Emanuel.
Lucas film history
Lucas created the blockbuster “Star Wars” franchise with the release of the first film, “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope” in 1977. The film was a box office sensation and won seven Academy Awards.
He also made the “Indiana Jones” series of movies with famed director and friend Steven Spielberg.
The American Film Institute lists Lucas’ “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope” as No. 15 on its list of the 100 greatest American films of all time.
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