After a prolonged battle with San Francisco’s NIMBY empire, George Lucas announced two years ago that he would take his giant filmmaking museum project to the friendlier shores of Chicago. Now, after yet another vicious battle with Chicago’s NIMBYs, he’s abandoning his plans there, too. You’d think he was trying to build the Death Star or something.
In a process that’s dragged on longer than the Clone Wars, Lucas has been trying to build a museum for decades to house his voluminous collection of art — not only his Star Wars memorabilia, but thousands of pieces of Americana that range from Norman Rockwell paintings to MAD Magazine covers. In Chicago, plans for his Lucas Museum of Narrative Art included a radically swooping structure designed by Ma Yansong, and also a program to rehabilitate the lakefront property and create community outreach programs. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and many neighbourhood groups were on board, but a local advocacy group named “Friends of Parks” filed a lawsuit to prevent construction from starting. Lucas specifically blamed them for his departure, according to the Chicago Tribune:
No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot. 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.
So with San Francisco and Chicago both too backwards-looking to accept this very generous gift from one of the most famous people on the planet, where else can Lucas go? Los Angeles, said the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti: “The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would be perfect for Los Angeles,” he said in a statement. “We would welcome the opportunity to be a permanent home for this incredible collection, which would become part of a museum culture that is unrivalled in the United States.”
Besides the fact that LA is just more welcoming to these projects in general, Lucas has plenty of ties there, too: He went to the University of Southern California. Maybe LA can scoop up this museum on the rebound like it did with Boston’s thwarted Olympics bid.