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Sneed scoop: Chicago lands George Lucas Museum

Bravo! Chicago is a lock for George Lucas’ museum.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has won a fierce competition with Los Angeles and San Francisco to house a first-of its-kind interactive museum housing movie mogul George “Star Wars” Lucas’ formidable collection of artwork and movie memorabilia!

Shortly after Sneed’s scoop that Chicago had won the bidding war, Lucas issued a statement from San Francisco: “Building in Chicago is the right decision for the museum, but the Bay Area will always be my home. I grew up here, made all my films here and raised my family in the Bay Area.”

Chicago’s lakefront museum campus will house the new $1 billion Lucas Museum of Narrative Art on a 17-acre site located on parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place. It will open in 2018.

“George Lucas has revolutionized the art of storytelling over the last four decades and we are honored to be the recipient of this incredible legacy investment that will allow everyone to learn about and experience narrative arts,” Emanuel said in a statement.

“Like Marshall Field, John G. Shedd and Max Adler before him, George’s philanthropy will inspire and educate for generations. No other museum like this exists in the world, making it a tremendous educational, cultural and job creation asset for all Chicagoans, as well as an unparalleled draw for international tourists,” added the mayor.

The Lucas museum board also credited Chicago for providing a larger location; its easy accessibility to public transportation; and the fact it is centrally located in a city renowned for its love of art and architecture.

Lucas — who is married to Chicago businesswoman/civic leader Mellody Hobson — originally wanted to build the 95,000-square-foot museum in his hometown of San Francisco, on Crissy Field in the national park known as the Presidio.

But when site proposals on the field were rejected, Emanuel moved fast in February and quickly became a front-runner to snag the project.

“I am humbled to be joining such an extraordinary museum community and to be creating the Museum in a city that has a long tradition of embracing the arts and architecture,” Lucas said in a statement on the museum’s website.

Shortly after a phone call thanking Lucas and Hobson for choosing Chicago, Emanuel told reporters outside his City Hall office Monday evening that the museum will create “one of the most tremendous, vibrant and green museum campuses of any major American city that will partner education with our neighborhood schools and create jobs throughout the city of Chicago.”

It will bring “hundreds of jobs and economic opportunity,” Emanuel said.

He added: “This is a milestone for the city, but it is just one milestone on a journey as we build this new museum.”

Ironically, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who attended a Step IT Up America conference with Emanuel in Chicago recently, wrote a column last Saturday for stating that he felt confident his city could beat the Lucas site proposed for Chicago.

Little did he know that the city that dawdled would get dismissed.

◆ The stats: The museum is completely self-funded; will be built, funded and endowed by Lucas; and has been described as a “history of storytelling” project “dedicated to the power of the visual image” as well as the world’s largest interactive museum.

Lucas said he wanted his museum to be close to the water, enveloped by nature and centrally located. He talked about enhancing the green space around it by taking much of the museum parking underground.

Welcome to your second home, George.

Mellody has given us the gift of you . . . and what a gift you are giving us.


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