George Lucas chooses Chicago as site of his museum

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George Lucas

Star Wars creator George Lucas’ plans to locate his future museum of art and movie memorabilia in Chicago.

The Windy City beat out Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities vying to host the attraction. Lucas released a statement expressing his hopes to open the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in 2018 in Chicago.

"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," the statement said.

Given Lucas' close ties to California, where he was born, the decision was a surprise. Lucasfilm's visual effects division is based in San Francisco, and Marin County is the headquarters for Lucasfilm and Skywalker Sound.

But Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered Lucas a lakefront location close to other attractions, including the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. Meanwhile, San Francisco rejected Lucas' first choice of a location near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Chicago also had a leg-up because Lucas' wife, Mellody Hobson is from Chicago, and the city closed down Promontory Point along the Lake Michigan shore so the couple could host a star-studded party there after their California wedding.

Throughout the decision-making process, a spokesman for Lucas praised Chicago for the attention it heaps on culture, architecture, innovations and education.

"Chicago's a great city. We have a tradition that resonates closely with the way George Lucas has described his museum, as a museum of visual storytelling," said Gillian Darlow, CEO of Polk Bros. Foundation and a co-chair of Chicago's site selection task force. "He wants to help inspire other people, especially kids, to have bold visions the way he did."