• Courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

In its latter months and days, 2014 kicked out a few surprises. Besides Cosby, Cuba, and North Korea’s near conquest of Sony Pictures, at the end of the year:

The Lucas Museum looks worse now that we’ve seen it. Never mind the lawsuit filed by Friends of the Parks to keep the Lucas project off those lakefront parking lots (next court date: February 26), the proposed big white zit design for the building, by Beijing-based architect Ma Yansong, looks like it could sink the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art all by itself.

The Vivian Maier juggernaut is on hold, thanks to a lawsuit filed in Cook County probate court filing on behalf of a purported new heir to the “North Shore nanny’s” now famous trove of photography. The heir’s in France; the suit was filedfiling was instigated by east coast attorney David Deal. The case could take years to resolve.

University of Illinois faculty want a do-over for Steven Salaita. Just before Christmas, the UI Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure released its report on Salaita’s tweet-inspired UI job loss at the hand of chancellor Phyllis Wise (confirmed by the university board). They’re asking for reconsideration by a committee of “qualified academic experts.” Meanwhile, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Salaita to its 2014 Influence List.

Next Theatre is gone. After 34 years, and in spite of last summer’s vows that it would find a way to persevere, Evanston’s best theater company folded under the weight of a $76,000 debt to the city. Two years of unpaid rent had somehow escaped the notice of its board.

Roosevelt University is shrinking its Schaumburg campus. Just 18 years ago, under a president sure that Roosevelt’s future depended on establishing a full sister campus in the ‘burbs, the university begged and borrowed the money to open its Schaumburg campus. Now, carrying a much bigger debt for its 32-story Wabash Building on the Chicago campus, Roosevelt has changed its mind about Schaumburg. When the new year strikes, that campus will be cut back to something more like a specialized branch, with a major focus on pharmacy.

The International Beethoven Project wants to conduct a new program. IBP, which cancelled its 2014 Beethoven Festival after word got out that it hadn’t yet fully paid musicians who participated the previous year, announced this month that it’ll spearhead an expansive new project, the 2020 City of Culture celebration, honoring Beethoven’s 250th birthday. Violinist and blogger Ellen McSweeney, who blew the whistle on the unpaid debts, was honored as one of Musical America’s 2014 Profiles in Courage for speaking up.

The Great Chicago Fire Festival is scheduled for another attempt to ignite. Redmoon’s festival, which notoriously fizzled last October, is back on the city’s event calendar for the summer and fall of 2015.

Longtime DCASE staffer Julie Burros is Boston’s new culture czar. Burros, whose last title at Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events was Director of Cultural Planning, decamped for Boston this month to start work as that city’s newly established, cabinet-level Chief of Arts and Culture. Among her duties: a Boston version of the Chicago cultural plan.

Correction: This post was amended to reflect that a lawsuit was not, in fact, filed in the Vivian Maier case—rather, it was a probate court filing.