Chicago Wins Competition for George Lucas’s Art Museum

Photographer: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Director George Lucas attends Star Wars Celebration V at Orange County Convention Center in this Aug. 14, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Close

Director George Lucas attends Star Wars Celebration V at Orange County Convention... Read More

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Photographer: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Director George Lucas attends Star Wars Celebration V at Orange County Convention Center in this Aug. 14, 2010 in Orlando, Florida.

Chicago will be home to a museum exhibiting the art and movie memorabilia of “Star Wars” creator George Lucas after beating out three California cities.

“We are honored to be partnering with the city of Chicago and the many cultural, educational and community groups,” 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.”

Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago has sought to boost its profile and attractiveness as a tourist destination. The city competed against San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland to land the collection. The billionaire filmmaker plans to pour his fortune into what will be the the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

“No other museum like this exists in the world, making it a tremendous educational, cultural and job creation asset for all Chicagoans, as well as an unparalleled draw for international tourists,” Emanuel said in an e-mailed statement.

The city, the third-most-populous in the U.S., is also competing for President Barack Obama’s presidential library. The president was a community organizer in Chicago and Emanuel, a 54-year-old Democrat, was his White House chief of staff.

$300 Million

The Lucas museum, with an initial estimated cost of $300 million, would house his assemblage of art and design, from 20th century illustrations by Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish, to the gown of Queen Amidala and Darth Vader’s costume in “Star Wars,” according to Lucas’s website.

A panel appointed by Emanuel recommended 17 acres along the Lake Michigan shoreline, more than 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) from San Francisco Bay. The site is a parking lot between Soldier Field, home of the National Football League’s Chicago Bears, and McCormick Place, the nation’s largest convention center.

The land is owned by the Chicago Park District and is near three major attractions -- the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium.

While Chicago is the hometown of Lucas’s wife, Mellody Hobson, Lucas, 70, has strong ties to northern California. He was born in Modesto, about 80 miles east of San Francisco, the setting for his 1973 film, “American Graffiti,” which he co-wrote and directed.

Lucasfilm’s visual effects division, Industrial Light & Magic, is based in the Presidio, marked by a fountain topped by a statue of Yoda from “Star Wars.”

“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 San Francisco,” Lucas said in the e-mailed statement. “I thank all Californians who reached out to me in support of the museum.”

San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Bob Linscheid said the group was disappointed by the news.

``The Chamber continues to stand united in our commitment to make San Francisco the best possible home for the Lucas museum,'' he said in an e-mailed statement. ``We urge the institute's board to continue its dialogue with the city.''

To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Jones in Chicago at tjones58@bloomberg.net; Elizabeth Campbell in Chicago at ecampbell14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net Mark Schoifet

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