The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art announced Friday that its board and leadership has given up on Chicago as a site for the museum and will build in California instead. No specific California location was named.
The announcement blamed “delays caused by Friends of the Parks” for the decision. It doesn’t mention that Lucas refused to consider any Chicago site other than two protected lakefront, park-district owned properties, one of which would have put the city a billion dollars in debt.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in his own statement, said “time ran out . . . Chicago’s loss will be another city’s gain.”
Here’s the museum announcement, followed by the Mayor’s statement:
The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art announced today that in light of extensive delays caused by Friends of the Parks, Chicago will no longer be considered a potential site for the museum. The board of directors and executive leadership of the museum confirmed that California will be its future home.
“No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot,” said George W. Lucas, founder and chairman of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. “The actions initiated by Friends of Parks and their recent attempts to extract concessions from the city have effectively overridden approvals received from numerous democratically elected bodies of government.”
The location — a parking lot near Soldier Field — was originally selected by Chicago’s Site Selection Task Force in May 2014 and subsequently approved by the City Council, Park District, Plan Commission, Department of Zoning, Illinois General Assembly and the governor. When the city offered McCormick Place East as an alternative to the parking lot, Friends of the Parks announced plans to block consideration of that location as well as any lakefront site or park in Chicago.
On behalf of his wife, Mellody Hobson, and other members of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Board of Directors, Mr. Lucas expressed gratitude to the many people throughout the community who worked tirelessly to bring the institution to life on Chicago’s Museum Campus. “We are deeply appreciative to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor Bruce Rauner and countless others for all the time and effort they invested in trying to secure the museum for Chicago,” said Mr. Lucas.
The education-focused public institution remains dedicated to expanding public understanding and appreciation of narrative art in all its forms, providing inspiration and learning, especially for young people.
Mr. Lucas stated, “While Chicago will not be home to the museum, my wife and I will continue to enthusiastically support a wide variety of educational and cultural activities throughout the city.”
Here’s the mayor’s full statement:
Two years ago to the day, George Lucas and Mellody Hobson announced that they had chosen Chicago as the site of their incredible legacy investment. The opportunity for a City to gain a brand new museum is rare, and this particular opportunity – a gift worth approximately $1.5 billion – would have been the largest philanthropic contribution in Chicago’s history.
Unfortunately, time has run out and the moment we’ve consistently warned about has arrived – Chicago’s loss will be another city’s gain. This missed opportunity has not only cost us what will be a world-class cultural institution, it has cost thousands of jobs for Chicago workers, millions of dollars in economic investment and countless educational opportunities for Chicago’s youth.
Despite widespread support of the project from Chicago’s cultural, business, labor, faith and community leaders and the public, a legal challenge filed by Friends of the Parks threatened to derail this once-in-a-generation opportunity.
We tried to find common ground to resolve the lawsuit – the sole barrier preventing the start of the museum’s construction. But despite our best efforts to negotiate a common solution that would keep this tremendous cultural and economic asset in Chicago, Friends of the Parks chose to instead negotiate with themselves while Lucas negotiated with cities on the West Coast.