George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
San Francisco has officially lost again. First it was the Warriors in the NBA Finals, and then it was the Giants unable to advance in the playoffs on an even year. And on January 10, 2017, George Lucas and the Board of Directors of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art announced that their museum would be built at a site in art-rich Los Angeles over San Francisco:
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.”
This announcement comes after seven long years of contemplation of where the Lucas Museum should be built. The original location was supposed to be in San Francisco’s Presidio, which was denied due to it being a national park. Then in an attempt to build the museum on Chicago’s downtown waterfront, Lucas was met with fierce opposition as people derided both the architecture and the artwork of his proposed building. Only in the early months of 2016 were Lucas and his Museum Board formally welcomed to build their memorabilia-filled exhibition center, at SF’s Treasure Island and at LA’s Exposition Park.
Unlike much of the general public’s perception, George Lucas has had a tough time fighting against all of the criticism and disapproval that he’s accumulated for his films. In an interview with BloombergBusinessweek, the author noted that Lucas spoke with a sense of bitterness and resentment when mentioning how “snooty critics” scorned his Star Wars prequels for lacking that characteristic charm initially presented in his earlier films. He states that he’s never basked in the adoration of critics and has never really won many notable awards, like an Academy Award, as enjoyed by other famous filmmakers, such as Steven Spielberg. This indignation was also expressed as Lucas went on to mention his setbacks in trying to convince the local public to allow him to build his historical museum on public land. At the Presidio, where he had built Lucasfilm Headquarters back in 2005, the public rebuffed his ideas of a “big, hulking building” that was much taller than what the Presidio Trust board was looking for, and his old-fashioned, Beaux Arts design for it was decidedly unpopular, especially in a city booming with technology startups and new companies.
In Chicago, George Lucas was initially well-received by the mayor and the community, which all started to fall through the cracks as Lucas’ public appearances drastically declined as he tried to keep a low profile and the Chicagoan mayor’s approval ratings took a huge dive despite his reelection.
The majority of the opposition, a citizens’ group called Friends of the Parks, contended that Chicago’s lakefront was their “jewel”, and that it would be soon filled with museums of the wealthy if they let Lucas lead the charge. In 2015, the Friends of the Parks filed a federal lawsuit, causing Lucas to become restless after much legal red tape that he did not have the energy to deal with, as he was quickly approaching his mid-70’s. Despite the numerous supporters of the museum protesting the Friends of the Parks by picketing outside their offices, the organization received their usual amount of donations, if not more. Soon after these events, Lucas decided to move his exhibition back to California, where he hoped it would be better approved by the general society.
All in all, as of January of 2017, George Lucas and his Board of Directors for his Museum of Narrative Art is scheduled to be constructed in Los Angeles, California. According to several other artistic museum directors, Los Angeles’ culture and lifestyle show no signs of slowing or letting up. This is one of the reasons that the museum architects are going for an ambitious design that is futuristic-looking, maintaining a sleek, contemporary structure, boasting a size of 275,000 square feet. The building will house Lucas’s own art collection, which consist of works by many of his favorite artists and even a little of his own work. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is scheduled to open in 2021.