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.
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.
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.
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.