Rahm Emanuel looks to lure George Lucas museum to Chicago

Midwest, News
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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With his wife Mellody Hobson, who heads a Chicago investment firm, film mogul George Lucas serves as Grand Marshall of the 2013 Modesto American Graffiti Car Show and Festival parade. (hharryus / Flickr)

With his wife Mellody Hobson, who heads a Chicago investment firm, film mogul George Lucas serves as Grand Marshall of the 2013 Modesto American Graffiti Car Show and Festival parade. (hharryus / Flickr)

A short time from now in a neighborhood not far, far away… filmmaker extraordinaire George Lucas may land his art and film museum in Chicago. The move comes after the filmmaker’s bid to build the museum in San Francisco fell through last year.

GEORGE LUCAS AND URBAN DESIGN GROUP'S CULTURAL ARTS MUSEUM. (COURTESY URBAN DESIGN GROUP)

GEORGE LUCAS AND URBAN DESIGN GROUP’S CULTURAL ARTS MUSEUM. (COURTESY URBAN DESIGN GROUP)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel formed a task force last week, directing a dozen civic leaders to scout out, as the Sun-Times summarized, “a site ‘accessible’ to all Chicago neighborhoods that’s large enough to host a museum ‘comparable to other major cultural institutions,’ but does not ‘require taxpayer dollars.’”

The task force is co-chaired by businessmen Gillian Darlow and Kurt Summers. Emanuel gave the group until mid-May to find a homebase for the Star Wars creator, who last year married Mellody Hobson, president of the Chicago investment firm Ariel.

GEORGE LUCAS AND URBAN DESIGN GROUP'S CULTURAL ARTS MUSEUM. (COURTESY URBAN DESIGN GROUP)

GEORGE LUCAS AND URBAN DESIGN GROUP’S CULTURAL ARTS MUSEUM. (COURTESY URBAN DESIGN GROUP)

Lucas now lives in Chicago part-time, but Lucasfilm Ltd. and special effects company Industrial Light & Magic are still based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lucas had originally scoped out a spot in the Presidio, but was rejected by the Presidio trust—the nonprofit that oversees the federally owned land at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Lucas’ was one of three proposals for The Presidio’s 8-acre mid-Crissy Field site, all of which The Presidio Trust rejected earlier this year, saying in a statement “We simply do not believe any of the projects were right for this location.”

Spokesman David Perry has described the 95,000-square-foot museum as the “history of storytelling” and the “world’s foremost museum dedicated to the power of the visual image.”

Chicago is home to many museums, both well-known like the Art Institute and the Field Museum, and a bit more odd—say, the International Museum of Surgical Science. But the Lucas museum, which will include film memorabilia as well as works of art from the likes of Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish, would be a big get.

San Francisco is still vying for the return of its film Jedi, but we’ll see in one month how Rahm’s empire might strike back.

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