George Lucas, Wife Seek New City To Build Their State-Of-The Art ‘Star Wars’ Museum

A Star Wars museum proposed by creator George Lucas is being met with opposition by a nonprofit park preservation group in Chicago. Friends of the Parks have opposed the project for a couple of years. The organization issued a statement rejecting the second proposed site for the museum, McCormick Place East. Philanthropists George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, are now seeking a new city to build their self-funded, state-of-the art museum, Chicago Sun Times reports.

Critics of the museum note that McCormick Place East “has always been a large unwelcome building on the lakefront.” The vast center has been dubbed “the shoreline’s Berlin Wall,” as it’s hardly one of the many architectural icons that the city boasts. Friends of the Parks oppose the museum primarily because they believe an open lakefront is vital to Chicago’s appeal, and a new museum would minimize some of that value.

The Lucas Museum proposal sought to build on a piece of lakeside property near Soldier Field, the Chicago Bears’ football stadium. Lucas had committed more than $740 million toward the museum’s construction, which required 12 additional acres around the lakefront, essentially replacing the underutilized McCormick Place East with a museum designed by world-class MAD Architects.

Hobson, who also serves as the chair of DreamWorks Animation’s board, said in a statement last week that she and her husband are looking to take their museum proposal to cities outside of Chicago. The museum would house the their vast personal collection of art and Star Wars memorabilia, according to the Wall Street Journal. The museum is to be called the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

“As an African American who has spent my entire life in this city I love, it saddens me that young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer,” Hobson said in her statement. “As Chair of the Board of After School Matters, which serves 15,000 public high school students in Chicago and has more demand than can ever be met, I have seen firsthand what art can do to spur imagination and creativity, heal the soul and advance society-something so needed right now. This is a city of big shoulders and a metropolis that is second to none. In refusing to accept the extraordinary public benefits of the museum, the Friends of the Parks has proven itself to be no friend of Chicago. We are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago. If the museum is forced to leave, it will be because of the Friends of the Parks and that is no victory for anyone.”

You can read Hobson’s full statement here. Critics are scratching their heads over her assertion that “young black and brown children” will be losers if they take the museum elsewhere. Many are wondering why the couple are linking the project to “minority children.”

Lucas and Hobson’s museum project has the support of Chicago officials, including Rev. Jesse Jackson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Friends of the Parks filed a lawsuit in 2014 to block construction of the museum. In February, a federal judge denied the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Emanuel backed the proposed museum because it would have created jobs and other economic benefits to the city. Recently, Friends of the Parks suspended its lawsuit before entering talks with the city about an alternative construction site, “but those talks failed to reach a compromise,” per Fortune.

“I don’t want to see people go see the Lucas Museum in Los Angeles or San Francisco. I want them to come to the city of Chicago. Create the jobs here, the cultural and educational enrichment here,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

The Star Wars franchise is estimated to be worth $30.7 billion. Lucas created the series in the late 1970’s, and then sold it to Walt Disney for $4 billion in 2012. City officials note how within the first ten years, the Star Wars museum would bring in more than $2 billion in increased tourist spending, and generate more than $120 million in new tax revenue.

Critics say that if Lucas and Hobson care so much about the children, they should have considered building their museum off the lakefront, where it never would have faced legal opposition. Friends of the Parks would like the city to come up with a third proposed location, indicating that they would support the museum being built on the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital.

Advocates for a George Lucas museum in Chicago hit the streets last week to protest outside the headquarters of Friends of the Parks. Meanwhile, Waukegan has reached out to developers about bringing the museum to the city. Waukegan bills itself as the “Birthplace of Motion Pictures” and says it is a natural fit for a motion picture-based museum.

What’s your opinion about Chicago not feeling the force of George Lucas and his epic Star Wars museum? Sound off in the comments below.

[Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Images]

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