Museums USA

Star Wars creator picks Chinese architect for Chicago museum

George Lucas's museum of narrative art due to rise on city's lakefront

George Lucas wields a light sabre

The filmmaker George Lucas announced today, 28 July, that he has chosen Beijing-based Mad Architects to lead the team that will design the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art on Chicago's lakefront.

Subject to planning approval, the new museum, which initially San Francisco seemed the front runner to secure, is due to be built on two carparks owned by the Chicago Park District near the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum of natural history.

The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, is an enthusiastic supporter of the project and his lobbying helped convince the 70-year-old filmmaker to choose the Midwest over the West Coast for his Norman Rockwell paintings, film posters and memorabilia from the many Star Wars productions.

In San Francisco Lucas met with opposition when he sought to build his museum in the Presidio Park. In Chicago, critics have also pledged to fight his planned museum. The project is funded by Lucas. It is reported to be worth around $1bn, including the institution's endowment. The carparks would be leased to the museum for a nominal $1, similar to arrangements for other cultural instiutions in the city's Park District.

In a statement the Lucas museum said it would unveil designs by the end of this year. The museum, which is due to open by 2018, will be linked by a new bridge to Northerly Island, a former air strip being turned into a lakefront park. Ma Yansong, the 39-year-old founder of Mad Architects, is a graduate of the Yale School of Architecture. The landscape designer for the project is Chicago-based Studio Gang. Chicago-based VOA Architects will implement Mad's design.

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30 Jul 14
22:8 CET


So much for venerable cultural institutions celebrating humankind's achievements in the natural sciences and the humanities. From now on, the primest of prime public land will be given away to rich guys to build billion-dollar celebrations of their own achievements. Dutifully, we will all stand in line to take a look. In the meantime, our great public museums struggle to stay afloat. The American cult of celebrity and life-as-television-miniseries grows stronger and stronger.

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