The pressure to keep the force in Chicago is mounting.
Last week it was announced that former secretary of education Arne Duncan has joined the Lucas Museum board of directors. That’s not a huge surprise, since Duncan (also a former head of Chicago Public Schools) once headed up the Ariel Education Initiative. The initiative is a project of John W. Roger’s Ariel Investments, the firm headed by Lucas’s spouse, Mellody Hobson.
But now, Laura Lott, president and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums (formerly the American Association of Museums), the major national museum trade and advocacy organization, is chastising Chicago and Friends of the Parks for turning down a chance to put the Lucas Museum on the lakefront.
“As Chicago and Illinois face their own budget struggles, a small but vocal group is coming perilously close to blocking a golden opportunity for the community,” Lott writes in a statement posted on the Lucas Museum website.
“Most communities around the country would love to have a new institution such as the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art open its doors within their borders. Most communities know and appreciate what a museum can deliver to a city, including jobs, educational opportunities and new tourism and other revenue. It’s a shame that some in Chicago are blind to decades of indisputable national data and may force the city to reject this tremendous gift.”
What? Doesn’t Lott know that Lucas has refused to consider any location not directly on the downtown lakefront? That he’s ignored several perfectly good alternative sites, including one just across the street? That this isn’t about the city not wanting his museum, but is all about Lucas demanding a vanity location? On land being held in trust for the public?
And that his taking-my-marbles-and-going-home behavior is a replay of what happened when he couldn’t get the exact piece of land he wanted in San Francisco’s Presidio?
I wanted to ask Lott all that, but she didn’t want to talk.
Meanwhile, San Francisco is talking with Lucas about another location, on Treasure Island. He’ll reportedly need a fleet of boats to transport museum visitors to that site, but it’s definitely on the water.
You can read Lott’s surprising statement here.