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George Lucas Museum headed to Chicago

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012, one result of the deal that was often overlooked is George Lucas’ promise to create a museum with a portion of the $4 billion payout that transferred ownership of the Star Wars universe to the home of Mickey Mouse and the Marvel superheroes. The acclaimed filmmaker took a big step toward fulfilling that promise this week with the news that The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be built in Chicago and — if all goes well — open its doors to the public in 2018.

As reported by The Chicago Tribune, the Windy City beat out San Francisco and Los Angeles to become the home of the museum, likely due in no small part to Chicago being the home of Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson. The couple live in the city part of the year, and the $700 million museum is expected to be built in an area located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place off Burnham Harbor.

The mission statement of the museum, which will house everything from paintings and sequential art to movie memorabilia and props (including like Darth Vader’s original costume), is as follows:

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be a gathering place to experience narrative art and the evolution of moving images – from illustration to cinema to the digital mediums of the future. The museum’s seed collection – a gift from founder George Lucas – spans a century-and-a-half and features the images and the mediums that have profoundly shaped our cultural heritage. The foundational collection will continue to grow and evolve as the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art acquires more works.

“I am humbled to be joining such an extraordinary museum community and to be creating the museum in a city that has a long tradition of embracing the arts and architecture,” Lucas said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “Choosing Chicago is the right decision for the museum, but a difficult decision for me personally because of my strong personal and professional roots in the Bay Area.”

The location of the museum is still pending approval from the  Chicago Plan Commission, but if all goes well it’s expected that architectural renderings will be submitted to the city later this year. The Chicago Tribune reports that the large edge Chicago has over San Francisco with regard to annual tourism also played a big role in the decision to bring the museum to the city. Chicago attracted 46.37 million visitors in 2012, to San Francisco’s 16.51 million visitors. The proximity of the proposed location to the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium also reportedly made the site attractive to Lucas.

It’s worth noting that Lucas will be paying for the entire project himself, and the museum won’t be receiving taxpayer subsidies — something that sets it apart from other museums. 

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