Chicago Gets George Lucas Museum
George Lucas has chosen Chicago as the home of the $700 million museum the Star Wars creator plans to build, despite spirited bidding from both San Francisco and Los Angeles.
While Lucas has grown up and spent most of his career in the Bay Area, and attended college in Southern California, his connection to Chicago is his wife, Mellody Hobson, an investment banker and chairman of the board of DreamWorks Animation. She and Lucas have lived part time in Chicago, her hometown, since they were married in June 2013. Before his marriage, Lucas had no direct ties to Chicago and has not made any movies there.
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Lucas, who received more than $4 billion from Disney when he sold his company in October 2012, has promised at least $700 million toward the building and operation of the museum.
The new name of the museum is going to be the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, according to a post on the website of the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday, which broke the news. The museum's board is expected to vote to approve the choice as soon as Wednesday.
Chicago’s influential Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, has been lobbying hard for Lucas to choose Chicago. The museum, scheduled to open in 2018, will get a prime location on what are now parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place (a huge market place and convention center).
Lucas had originally sought to build the museum on the waterfront in San Francisco, but the city would not make the site he wanted available and he rejected the alternatives presented to him.
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"Choosing Chicago is the right decision for the museum,” Lucas said in a statement, “but a difficult decision for me personally because of my strong personal and professional roots in the Bay Area.”
Lucas has built a huge art collection over the years, including paintings by Norman Rockwell, which will be housed in the museum. In addition, he has said he plans to include artifacts and memorabilia from Star Wars and his other movies, including a scale model of the Millennium Falcon, the ship commanded by Hans Solo in the Star Wars movies.
“It’s still an emerging and growing collection,” Laurie Norton Moffatt, chief executive officer of the Norman Rockwell Museum, who is advising Lucas, told the Chicago Tribune. “He has an extraordinary collection of movie posters. I think he has the largest collection in the world.”