Lucas Lands in L.A.; CHI, SFO Miss Out on Billion Dollar Bonanza

The museum that Chicago didn’t want now finally has a home.  After a two-year search, the board of directors at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art have decided to locate their new facility in Los Angeles.

Rendering of the Lucas Museum proposal for Los Angeles (Courtesy of the Lucas Museum for Narrative Art)

Rendering of the Lucas Museum for Los Angeles. You can see it with all the other tourists when you visit Los Angeles. (Courtesy of the Lucas Museum for Narrative Art)

You’ll remember that Mr. Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, fought hard to locate the art and storytelling museum on the Chicago lakefront, but were eventually thwarted by a group of well-funded and well-connected BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything).  Now the 72-year-old film director will spend one billion of his own dollars to have the museum erected in Exposition Park in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announcing that his city will be the home of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (Courtesy of the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announcing that his city will be the home of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (Courtesy of the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles)

Much like the Chicago proposal, the Los Angeles plan will replace a surface parking lot with a futuristic-looking building designed by MAD Architects.  In the end it will actually create more parkland than there was pre-construction; which was also part of the Chicago plan.

Rendering of the Lucas Museum for Los Angeles. You can see it with all the other tourists when you visit Los Angeles. (Courtesy of the Lucas Museum for Narrative Art)

Rendering of the Lucas Museum for Los Angeles. Not yours. Can’t has. Bad kitty. (Courtesy of the Lucas Museum for Narrative Art)

For many, the west coast seemed a natural location for the building.  Los Angeles is the current home to the nation’s movie industry (though Chicago was before), and San Francisco is near Mr. Lucas’ hometown.  Those who perform dental inspections on gift horses suspected that Chicago might just be a pawn in a scheme to extract a better location out of one of the other cities in contention, but that’s not how it played out.  All Chicago had to do is say “yes” and the museum could have been ours.

Not surprisingly, the Windy City is well and truly off the radar at the Lucas Museum and not worthy of a mention in the board’s statement.

After extensive due diligence and deliberation, the Board of Directors of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is pleased to announce plans to build the museum in Exposition Park in Los Angeles. We have been humbled by the overwhelmingly positive support we received from both San Francisco and Los Angeles during our selection process. Settling on a location proved to be an extremely difficult decision precisely because of the desirability of both sites and cities.

The board wishes to extend a special thanks to Mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for their tremendous efforts and engagement. While each location offers many unique and wonderful attributes, South Los Angeles’s Promise Zone best positions the museum to have the greatest impact on the broader community, fulfilling our goal of inspiring, engaging and educating a broad and diverse visitorship. Exposition Park is a magnet for the region and accessible from all parts of the city. As a museum uniquely focused on narrative art, we look forward to becoming part of a dynamic museum community, surrounded by more than 100 elementary and high schools, one of the country’s leading universities as well as three other world-class museums.

Now we turn our attention to finalizing the details and building what we believe will be one of the most imaginative and inclusive art museums in the world—a global destination that all Angelenos and Californians will be proud to call their own.

It’s like one of those passive-agressive letters you get from a Minnesotan ex-girlfriend where she never outwardly says, “Movin’ on, sucks to be you!” but somehow you know you’re never getting your oversized Cubs hoodie back.

So we can add an anthropomorphized Lucas Museum to the ranks of the tens of thousands of people who have moved from Chicago to the left coast in the last few years, leaving behind a city of rising towers and shrinking population.

And we can convince ourselves that Chicago was never really going to get it anyway.  It was too good.  Too pretty.  Too interesting to fit in with baseline old Chicago.  Much like that girl in Minneapolis, a city that is colder, uglier, and infinitely more boring than Chicago but still manages to add almost 30,000 new people a year.

Location: Future site of the Lucas Museum, South Los Angeles

Editor

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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3 Comments

  1. THANKS to that repulsive group of obstructionist:
    Friends of the Parking Lot.
    BREAKING NEWS!!!
    As of 1-11-17 That patch of earth is still a glorious parking lot, preserved for future generations.

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  2. Because there wasn’t enough news to get my blood boiling this morning…

    What a shame this ordeal was. And I still have no idea what the hell friends of the parks were arguing for/against. Preservation of a parking lot? Go split yourselves!

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  3. Friends of the Parks sued because it’s illegal to convey public trust land to a private entity. But Chicago’s no-snitching code means that when the mayor is caught violating the law, the immediate reaction is to attack those who called the police.

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