The head of a national museum group is throwing her weight behind building the proposed, but looking more and more unlikely, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago. Laura Lott, the C.E.O. of the American Alliance of Museums calls the $700 million project “a golden opportunity for the community” in a statement posted on the Lucas Museum’s website.
The museum project is currently in limbo, with gadflies Friends of the Parks threatening legal action to block any attempt to build the museum on the city’s lakefront, and the Lucas family threatening to take their money elsewhere. Meanwhile, other cities are tugging at Mr. Lucas coattails like Dickensian children hoping for tuppence and a scrap of his special bread. Chatter around the halls of power these days is that a city in Texas may be next to make a play for the museum, but we haven’t been able to nail anything down on that yet.
Ms. Lott’s screed brings up some salient points, especially in the paragraph where she states, “In Chicago alone, museums contribute $850 million to the local economy, directly employ 4,000 people and contribute $38 million in city tax revenue (plus an equal amount to the state).”
That’s all fine and good, but the bulk of Ms. Lott’s letter is the equivalent of a strawman attack against the Friends of the Parks. She talks about economic impact, and cultural impact, and social impact, and all the good things the new Lucas Museum will mean to the city. But what she doesn’t address is the one thing that the whole debate hinges on: Building another museum on Chicago’s lakefront.
Museum supporters can talk till they’re blue in the face about what the Lucas loot will mean to the city. But until they come up with a convincing counter-argument to the FotP’s lakefront land reasoning, it’s all a bunch of wasted effort.