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Unfriendly Friends Of The Parks May Drive Lucas Museum Out Of Chicago

By Mae Rice in Arts & Entertainment on May 4, 2016 2:51PM

Designs for the Lucas Museum (Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)

Friends of the Parks had a busy Tuesday of bait-and-switching the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. First, they announced that they would stay their lawsuit to protect the original museum site: lakefront land near Soldier Field that's currently a parking lot, but could become a park one day, hypothetically. Then, they announced that they would pursue another lawsuit to protect McCormick Place East, the new site Mayor Rahm Emanuel has picked out for Star Wars creator George Lucas's blobby silver museum.

FOTP's Executive Director, Juanita Irizarry, told the Tribune that FOTP members were split on whether to pursue a lawsuit to protect the public land. Ultimately, however, she told the Sun-Times that "[t]he public trust must be protected and we will continue to fight for our lakefront to remain open, free and clear.”

Soon after, Mellody Hobson, a Chicago native and Lucas's wife, issued a statement saying, "We are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago [for the Lucas Museum]." In other words, Emanuel's fears that the museum would leave for a less litigious city are starting to officially come true.

Hobson's statement, published in full on ABC7, also took a shot at Friends of the Parks as an organization. Hobson writes:

While they claim to be a 'strong steward of Chicago and a partner to its progress,' their actions and decision rob our state of more than $2 billion in economic benefits, thousands of jobs and countless educational opportunities for children and adults alike.

Hobson also argued that the museum would have benefitted Chicago's children:

As an African American who has spent my entire life in this city I love, it saddens me that young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer. As Chair of the Board of After School Matters, which serves 15,000 public high school students in Chicago and has more demand than can ever be met, I have seen firsthand what art can do to spur imagination and creativity, heal the soul and advance society—something so needed right now.

The besieged museum has been in the works for two years, according to Hobson.