UPDATE 5:15 PM: Filmmaker George Lucas and wife Mellody Hobson have picked the future home for the planned Lucas cultural arts museum and….it’s not Los Angeles. Instead, the renamed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be built on a 17-acre parking lot tucked alongside Lake Michigan between Chicago’s Soldier Field stadium and the city’s McCormick Place convention center, the couple announced today. The decision, which still needs ratification by the organization’s board and city approvals, comes despite a big push by the city of San Francisco and a rather light-hearted, very last-minute social-media campaign by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. The Los Angeles proposal would have put the museum in Exposition Park, across the street from Lucas alma mater the University of Southern California and already home to several museums and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“We are honored to be partnering with the city of Chicago and the many cultural, educational and community groups that have come forward with ideas about how the LMNA will add to their work,” Lucas said in a statement. “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, a Modesto native who went to USC and since has given at least $175 million to the school, sold his Empire That Star Wars Built to Disney for more than $4 billion. Now, he and his wife will oversee construction of the museum that will house his holdings in film memorabilia and other decorative and illustrative art. A selection of the museum’s planned holdings displayed on its website covers everything from Golden Age illustrators such as N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish, Mad magazine covers, pinup master Alberto Vargas and, of course, the Oscar-winning visual-effects work by Lucas’ own creation, Industrial Light & Magic.
“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,” Lucas said in the statement. “I thank all Californians who reached out to me in support of the Museum.” Architectural renderings, including plans to put the site’s parking spaces underground and build more green space along the Lakefront, will be presented to the city later in the year. The museum is expected to open in 2018.
PREVIOUS, JUNE 11 PM: Wherever should George Lucas and his wife build their new cultural arts museum? Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has an idea, and it turns out, so do a lot of other Angelenos. The mayor started a Twitter campaign last night, under the hashtag #WhyLucasInLA, to entice to the city the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum proposed by Mellody Hobson and her husband, filmmaker George Lucas. As part of his campaign, Garcetti urged people to tweet their reasons, along with an image, photo, video or other visual aid. Garcetti called on people to explain why the museum should come to Los Angeles instead of what he called in an email to supporters, “cold and rainy” Chicago and San Francisco. And yes, that image from the email is of the mayor holding a sign featuring the Star Wars droid R2-D2 with an “LA” logo across its, um, chest. The campaign was at least briefly a trending topic on Twitter in Los Angeles, inspiring the sardonic and the serious to chime in. Here are a few of the better reasons given:
— VFX Soldier (@VFXSoldier) June 11, 2014
Because Lucas has the letters LA in it & someone could do something clever in the logo. #WhyLucasinLA
— Magi Loucks (@ItsMagi) June 12, 2014
— Philip Owens (@POCuts) June 11, 2014
More than 40 million people a year come visit Los Angeles. Of course the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum belongs in Los Angeles #WhyLucasinLA
— Jessica Gottlieb (@JessicaGottlieb) June 11, 2014
— Benjamin Andrews (@IndieFilmBen) June 11, 2014
Because Southern California built the Shuttle, was first to go supersonic, and higher and faster than anyone else. #WhyLucasinLA
— George Velasquez (@astro_jorge) June 11, 2014
— Jimmy Greenway (@jimmygreenway) June 11, 2014
Lucas and his wife are currently pondering proposed sites including San Francisco, at the Presidio former military base, and Chicago, on a 17-acre parking lot between Soldier Field stadium and the city’s convention center. The museum’s site describes the project as “a center highlighting populist art from some of the great illustrators of the last 150 years through today’s digital art used to create animated and live-action movies, visual effects, props and sketches. They’re all united by their ability to capture our shared cultural story-from Rockwell’s pencil sketches to computer generated moving images.” UPDATE 7:12 PM: Museum spokesman David Perry texted a statement, “Since the beginning of this process, we have indicated the several cities had expressed interest in the possible location of the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum. We are grateful for everyone’s enthusiasm for this project. The Museum team is considering and analyzing its options, but will not comment on any potential sites or cities at this time.”
Lucas and Hobson are expected to make a decision on a site sometime this summer, according to Molly Fowler, a Garcetti spokesperson.”L.A. is the creative capital of the world and a city of storytellers,” Fowler said. “We thought this would be a creative way to show Mr. Lucas and Ms. Hobson why they should bring their creative arts museum to Los Angeles.” The campaign has definitely shaken loose some fun images, like this one that Garcetti’s Twitter feed posted:
The Los Angeles proposal would site the museum in Exposition Park, near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and several museums, including the restored county Natural History Museum, the California ScienCenter and the California African-American Museum. But perhaps the best reason for the museum to come to Los Angeles sits right across the street (and a light-rail trolley line) from Exposition Park. It’s the campus of the University of Southern California, where Lucas went to film school and where he has donated at least $175 million to create a new home for the film program that he renamed the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Lucas pal Steven Spielberg is on the university’s Board of Trustees.
So, do you think the Lucas museum should come to L.A.? Tweet us why on Twitter @Deadline, and include the #WhyLucasInLA hashtag. If we get some good ones, we’ll repost here.