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George Lucas: 'Star Wars' art and film museum coming to Chicago lakefront

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"The force is with Chicago," columnist Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun Times wrote today, being the first to break this exciting news for city of Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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The building and investing of more than $1 billion in a museum to house his formidable collection of artwork and filmmaking memorabilia is a real coup for Chicago and Emanuel. The "Star Wars" art and film museum will be located next door to Soldier Field on Chicago’s lakefront museum campus. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (LMNA) on a 17-acre site and open in 2018.

Sneed reported that Emanuel called Lucas and Hobson, thanking them for choosing Chicago. In a not-so-typical press conference in front of his City Hall office, Emanuel told reporters 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. "This is a milestone for the city, but it is just one milestone on a journey as we build this new museum."

LMNA made the announcement official. The announcement said that it "Intends to join Chicago’s vibrant cultural arts scene by locating on the city’s Museum Campus. LMNA will be a gathering place to experience narrative art and the evolution of the visual image – from illustration to cinema to digital arts."

"We are honored to be partnering with the city of Chicago and the many cultural, educational and community groups that have come forward with ideas about how the LMNA will add to their work," said George Lucas, the Museum’s founder. "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."

Emanuel picked up the pieces of the San Francisco rejection and proactively made a pitch for the museum. The "Star Wars" museum, coupled with Chicago's strong standing for the Obama Library, will certainly make Chicago a much more attractive tourist spot.

The museum will offer unprecedented educational opportunities for young people and families, said LMNA. Lucas and a wide range of educators and artists describe the plans for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum:

Its mission: To teach the history of storytelling. A first-of-its kind institution, The Lucas Cultural Arts Museum is designed to serve as the country's premiere venue for understanding the connections and lineage of illustrative and visual art.

From the cave drawings of Altimira to the digital artistry of Industrial Light and Magic, from the Renaissance masters to Norman Rockwell, the Museum is an unprecedented leap forward in the concept of museums. In addition to its permanent collection, the Museum will provide gallery space for such traveling exhibitions as "Star Wars Identities."

Mayor Emanuel had an aggressive campaign to secure the museum. Emanuel named a Lucas Museum Site Selection Task Force for public input, including a public hearing and a website to accept comments.

The blue-ribbon panel was staffed, on a pro bono basis, by the Civic Consulting Alliance, a nonprofit consulting partnership that creates pro bono teams of public and private sector leaders, with the goal of making Chicago a more vibrant city for everyone.

The 12 task force members included:

Ted Beattie, president and CEO, Shedd Aquarium; Lee Bey, special projects manager, University of Chicago; Gia Biagi, chief of staff, Chicago Park District; Michelle Boone, commissioner, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; Gillian Darlow, co-chair, CEO, Polk Bros. Foundation; Nilda Esparza, director of Youth & Cultural Programming, Latinos Progresando; Jeanne Gang, founder and principal, Studio Gang Architects; Walter Massey, president, School of the Art Institute; Jorge Ramirez, president, Chicago Federation of Labor; Mary Ann Smith, former alderman; Jackie Samuel, director, New Communities Program, Claretian Associates; and Kurt Summers, co-chair, senior vice president, Grosvenor Capital Management.

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