In honor of national Star Wars Day Monday, here are 10 things to know about the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art imposing its force on Chicago:
1. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation Friday to strengthen the city’s legal ability to build the project on public park land.
Despite a galaxy of concerns surrounding the building of “Star Wars” creator George Lucas’ museum, Gov. Rauner’s legislative move changes Illinois law to let Chicago build museums on park or “formerly submerged” land. The Lake Michigan-adjacent property where Lucas wants to build – which currently acts as a parking lot south of Soldier Field – is part of land belonging to Chicago’s Museum Campus community. The Lucas Museum site is in close proximity to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Northerly Island.
2. Friends of the Parks sued to bar construction of the museum.
The organization argues that the lakefront site was a protected waterway.
“It is deeply troubling that our mayor and state public officials are trying to use the Obama Library as a shield to sneak the Lucas Museum on to Lake Michigan,” officials at Friends of the Parks said in a statement.
3. The Lucas Museum will not be a “Star Wars” museum exclusively.
Despite the museum being stocked with an estimated $1 billion worth of memorabilia from Lucas’ private collection, Lucas claims only some artifacts would be from the “Star Wars” series.
“We’ll have ‘Indiana Jones,’ We’ll have ‘Lord of the Rings.’ We’re going to have a lot of movies, not just my movies,” Creator and Chicago resident George Lucas said at a Chicago Ideas Week event last October, adding that everything had been "blown all out of proportion."
4. An economic impact study predicts the museum could rake in more than $2 billion in tourism revenue to the city within 10 years.
The earliest the museum would open is in 2018, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a press conference the construction process alone would create about 1,500 jobs. As for permanent positions, it would be 400 to 500.
5. The museum’s design resembles a spaceship inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies Van Der Rohe.
Architects from Beijing and Chicago are in charge of the seven-level, 400,000-square foot building complete with a 360-degree-view circular observation deck and a surface made from “a stone as primitive as it is futuristic.” Beijing-based MAD Architects will serve as the principal designer, Chicago’s Studio Gang will design the landscape and bridge to the city’s Northerly Island nature area, and Chicago-based VOA Associates are the executive architects planning to lead the implementation of MAD’s design.
6. The museum will host exclusive traveling exhibitions featuring world-renowned artists and filmmakers.
There will be retrospectives by acclaimed contemporary artists and access to priceless masterpieces and films never before seen in the city.
7. Its lecture series features “the most gifted, intriguing and inventive artists and filmmakers of our time.”
Topics planned so far range from comic art to cutting-edge digital architecture.
8. One of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s stipulations for letting Lucas build his museum in Chicago was that no taxpayer dollars would be used to pay for it – including any environmental cleanup.
A site inspection report filed with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency indicated that construction could unearth potentially cancer-causing chemicals from debris dating back to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Estimates for the cost of environmental cleanup are yet to be determined.
9. The museum boasts a “comprehensive collection of regional, national and international cinema, experimental and independent film, video and digital media.”
The Lucas Museum plans to collaborate with local film festivals, helping it host film premieres and sneak previews of highly anticipated films. The museum will also screen legendary archival films and offer conversations with filmmakers, film scholars and critics.
10. Educational outreach is a large part of the museum’s mission.
The museum plans to work with other arts institutions, community groups and schools to develop programs aimed at “inspiring future generations of artists.” Special tours, talks, workshops and screenings will be tailored to serve the curriculum of students ranging from grade school to college age.
For more information, visit the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art’s website.