Lucas Museum Ends Bid to Build Museum in Chicago

Officials of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art have announced that Chicago is no longer being considered as a site for the proposed museum and that a site in California is likely to be selected instead.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the 300,000-square-foot museum on seventeen acres of lakefront property south of Soldier Field proposed by filmmaker George Lucas would have supplanted a parking lot used for events at the stadium. The proposal had been approved by the Chicago City Council, the Plan Commission, and the Chicago Park District, which owns the land and had entered into an agreement to lease the property at a cost of $10 for ninety-nine years. But a group called the Friends of the Parks filed a federal lawsuit in November 2014 blocking construction of the museum, arguing that it did not belong on the lakefront and describing the plan as a violation of the public trust doctrine.

"No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot," said George W. Lucas, founder and chair of the museum. "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." 

Despite his willingness to bear the full cost of the museum’s construction, Lucas, a signatory to the Giving Pledge, has had difficulty gaining final approval for it. The Tribune reports that the filmmaker has turned his attention to a site on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, while Los Angeles also has expressed interest.

"The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would be perfect for Los Angeles," said Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. "Tens of millions of people visit our city every year — and L.A. has unquestioned stature as a world arts capital, thanks to institutions like the Broad, the Getty, MOCA and LACMA. We would welcome the opportunity to be a permanent home for this incredible collection, which would become part of a museum culture that is unrivaled in the United States."

Patrick M. O’Connell, Bill Ruthhart. "Lucas Museum Drops Plan to Build in Chicago." Chicago Tribune 06/24/2016. "Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Withdraws From Chicago." Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Press Release 06/24/2016.