Billionaire filmmaker George Lucas, after a long and protracted effort to try to build a museum in San Francisco to house his collection of illustrations, graphic art, and movie memorabilia, has decided instead to take the $700 million project to Chicago, as the Chicago Tribune is reporting via a museum spokesperson. Chicago is where Lucas's wife of one year, Mellody Hobson lives, and it's now his adopted second home.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered Lucas a waterfront site over a year ago when he first learned of the project, and as Lucas sniffed to the New York Times during the contentious process to bring the museum to San Francisco's Presidio, all he was facing in San Francisco was pushback—in particular over his chosen, Spanish revival design—while Chicago "wanted it desperately."
After the Presidio Trust rejected Lucas's proposal for their waterfront site near Crissy Field, along with two other proposals that were submitted last summer, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recently offered Lucas's team a different waterfront site along the San Francisco Bay, closer to downtownthe Mayor even took out a full-page ad in the Chronicle last month signed by hundreds of local figures. Apparently, that deal was not sweet enough. Though an official announcement is expected tomorrow, Lucas's museum will likely be at a site that is currently home to a parking lot between Soldier Field and McCormick Place.
The museum said in a statement that a vote to make the decision final, by the museum's board, is set to take place Wednesday, and the museum would be scheduled to open in 2018. Lucas furthermore said, in the same statement: "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 name of the museum will be changed from the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. It will include Lucas's extensive collection of illustrative art, including many by Norman Rockwell, items from his own collection of movie artifacts like a scale model of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, and his reportedly vast collection of movie posters, which could be the largest ever assembled.