Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

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Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
A rendering of the planned museum and surrounding area by MAD Architects
Established 2014
Location Chicago, Illinois, USA
Type Art Museum
Founder George Lucas
Director Don Bacigalupi
Judy Kim, Dep. Dir.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is a museum project originally planned to be located in Chicago near Burnham Harbor and was slated to have been completed in 2019-2020.[1] Endowed and built by film creator and director, George Lucas,[1] it will hold paintings, photography, illustration, cinematic art and digital art.[2]


To be known as the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, it was originally planned for San Francisco, on Crissy Field. This version of the museum would have held Lucas’ art collection, which is estimated to be worth approximately $1 billion.[3] After four years of negotiation with The Presidio Trust over the land in San Francisco, Lucas announced instead that Chicago would host the museum, due in part to interest from the city's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and the promise of land on the shore of Lake Michigan.[4][5] The museum would lease the land from the Chicago Park District for $1 a year.[6] Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti also made a bid to host the project, offering Lucas land near the University of Southern California.[1] Youngstown Mayor, John McNally, has also proposed to Lucas to locate the museum in Youngstown, Ohio offering donated land in the city's downtown.[7][8]

The first president of the Museum is Don Bacigalupi, former president of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. In 2015, the State of Illinois approved potential land use for the museum[9] and the Chicago City Council approved zoning.[10][11]

On May 3 2016, a statement released by Melody Hobson, wife of George Lucas, stated that the couple was seeking other cities to host the museum after a protracted confrontation with Friends of the Parks.[12]


MAD architects, headed by Ma Yansong, is responsible for the building’s design, while VOA Associates will oversee construction. Studio Gang Architects, already involved in the rehabilitation of Northerly Island, will design the landscape. [13][14]

The design was met with some criticism upon release. Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune called the structure "needlessly massive" and called for a "dose of restraint" to preserve the lakefront.[15] In Crain's Chicago Business, Greg Hinz derided it as "[yelling] and [carrying] on, in its own way defacing the city's lakefront as much as any teenager with a can of spray paint...".[16]

Revised plans were released in September 2015, which scaled back on the size of the project but otherwise kept the basic design.[17]


The museum will house works by artists such as Howard Chandler Christy, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and Norman Rockwell.[18]


As the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, the institution faced obstacles in San Francisco. After the formal announcement of the museum's location on Chicago's lake shore, the project has faced similar opposition. In an editorial, the Chicago Tribune condemned the size of the structure, referring to it as "a monument to its patron rather than a modest addition to a democratic public space". The Chicago plan called for a museum building roughly four times the size of the one planned for San Francisco, though now that size was later scaled back.[19][17] The Tribune also expressed worries about the cost of maintenance, to be absorbed by taxpayers, and the damage to the preservation of the lake front.

Friends of the Parks, a Chicago-area preservation organization, opposed the plan, citing a ban on development on the land set aside for Lucas. It filed a federal suit to block the development, arguing that granting the museum a 99-year lease "effectively surrenders control" of prime lakefront property to a museum that is "not for the benefit of the public" but would "promote private and/or commercial interests".[20] In March 2015, U.S. District Judge John Darrah ruled the land intended for the museum is held in public trust. Thus, the Illinois General Assembly is the only body with the power to allow construction to proceed, under certain limitations.[21] The state subsequently approved a law designed to enable such projects, while the Chicago Park District approved a long-term lease and litigation on that lease is going forward.[22][23][24]

Criticism also has been leveled against Friends of the Parks for its opposition.[25] In May 2016, Bill Kurtis wrote an op-ed in support of the Lucas Museum which appeared in the Chicago Tribune.[26]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Matthews, David (29 September 2015). "Lucas Museum Called 'Huge Plus for City,' 'Upside-down Snow Cone' at Forum". DNA Info. Retrieved 15 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (2015). "Lucas Museum of Narrative Art". Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Retrieved 11 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Bailey, Holly (June 14, 2013). "George Lucas pitches a San Francisco art museum". Yahoo! News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Chicago to vie for George Lucas' museum". Chicago Tribune. April 10, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Sneed, Michael (June 24, 2014). "Sneed Exclusive: Chicago to Get George Lucas Museum". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 24, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Parks group to sue over lakefront site for Lucas Museum [1]
  7. "Youngstown mayor invites George Lucas to build museum downtown". 20 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "City Officials Have Star (Wars) in Their Eyes".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Lawmakers Approve Bill on Obama Library, Lucas Museum". NBC Chicago.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Smith, Aaron (October 30, 2015). "'Star Wars' creator George Lucas wins approval for Chicago art museum". CNNMoney.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Rosenfeld, Karrisa (October 29, 2015). "MAD's George Lucas Museum Wins Approval in Chicago".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Lucas Museum's Chicago Plan Now Appears Dead". CBS Chicago. Retrieved 4 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Neamt, Ioana (30 July 2014). "Studio Gang And MAD Architects To Design George Lucas' Museum Of Narrative Art". Commercial Property Executive. Retrieved 11 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. "Museum Design". Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Retrieved 12 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Kamin, Blair (3 November 2014). "Lucas Museum design an architectural mountain on city's lakefront". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Hinz, Greg (3 November 2014). "Lucas Museum rolls out a design R2-D2 would pan". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 12 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 O'Connell, Patrick M. (10 September 2015). "Scaled-back Lucas museum plans may put lawsuit in jeopardy".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Walker, Alissa (26 June 2014). "17 Works of Art That Will Hang In George Lucas's New Museum". Gawker Media (Gizmodo). Retrieved 12 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Editorial Board (7 November 2014). "Keep George Lucas' museum off Chicago's lakefront". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Rahm plan: Demolish McCormick Place East, put Lucas Museum there [2]
  21. Sisson, Patrick (March 13, 2015). "Will Judge's Ruling Send Lucas Museum to a Site Far, Far Away? - Museum Battles - Curbed Chicago". Curbed. Vox Media (Curbed). Retrieved March 13, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Manson, Patricia (February 4, 2016). "Lucas Museum put on hold again". Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Retrieved February 6, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "How public? Lucas case may hinge on interpretation of legal landmark". Chicago Tribune. November 9, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. O'Connell, Patrick M. (4 February 2016). "Judge deals setback to Lucas Museum, denies motion to dismiss lawsuit". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 6 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Harris, Melissa (March 23, 2015). "In Lucas Museum fight, preservationists are protecting parking lots". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 24, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Chicago Tribune (11 May 2016). "Bill Kurtis op-ed: Lucas Museum would further Chicago's lakefront mission".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links