George Lucas museum choice prompts strong reactions from leaders

George Lucas museum prompts strong reactions from civic leaders

Since George Lucas announced on Tuesday his decision to build his long-planned museum on Chicago's famous Museum Campus along Lake Michigan, civic leaders have weighed in on the "Star Wars" director's choice -- and some people in San Francisco aren't happy about it at all.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sounded a victorious note in an official statement in which he called the museum an "incredible legacy" for the city. Emanuel had courted Lucas to bring his museum to Chicago rather than San Francisco. The filmmaker is married to Chicago native Mellody Hobson, a financial executive.

"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.

Lucas said on Tuesday that he hopes the museum will be ready by 2018. A spokesman for Lucas said there is no official price tag for the museum yet, but some published reports have put the estimated cost as high as $700 million.

The museum will be named the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and will sit on a 17-acre site on Chicago's Museum Campus, which also serves as the home for the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum.

Lucas said on Tuesday in a prepared statement that "choosing Chicago is the right decision for the museum, but a difficult decision for me personally because of my strong personal and professional roots in San Francisco."

He added: "I thank all Californians who reached out to me in support of the museum."

Lucas had expressed interest in a San Francisco site across from Crissy Field. But earlier this year, the Presidio Trust rejected that site and, instead, offered the filmmaker a location near his Letterman Digital Arts Center. San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee later proposed a 2.3-acre lot across from the city's Embarcadero.

Lee said in a statement that he is "disappointed that San Francisco will not benefit from this renowned art collection and significant private investment by Mr. Lucas that would have been enjoyed by our families and children for generations to come."

He said that he is looking forward to "continuing to work with Mr. Lucas and his foundation in other endeavors that will help educate the young people of the Bay Area, his home."

On Tuesday, Ron Conway, a prominent Silicon Valley philanthropist, expressed frustration with the Presidio Trust.

"I’m extremely disappointed that the actions of the Presidio Trust have kept the Lucas Museum from being built in San Francisco, despite the valiant efforts of a diverse group of city leaders to keep it here," Conway said in a statement.

He said the San Francisco area would have benefited tremendously from Lucas' museum, "but the Presidio Trust prevented that." 

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti also attempted to lure Lucas' museum with a social media campaign and a proposed site at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena, near USC. 

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT 

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