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10 Chicago Museum Directors Defend The Lucas Museum In Open Letter

By Mae Rice in News on May 5, 2016 5:45PM

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

"Great cities have great museums." This is the opinion stated by... ten Chicago museum directors, unsurprisingly. In a recent letter to the Sun-Times, leaders of Chicago institutions including the The Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art started from this premise to argue that Chicago needs the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

Star Wars creator George Lucas first proposed this museum two years ago; it has since been caught up in litigation that has all but driven it out of town. On Tuesday Lucas'
s wife, Mellody Hobson, announced that she and Lucas are "seriously pursuing locations outside Chicago" for the museum.

They argue that it would constitute "a potential philanthropic gift of historic proportions," since Lucas plans to build the museum with roughly $1 billion of private funding. They also frame it as a cultural asset to the city, "a world-class exploration of the art of visual storytelling" projected to draw in more than a million tourists a year. Finally, they argue that the museum will "continue to pay returns for generations to come" by creating jobs and boosting the cities revenue from tourism, taxes, and fake light-saber sales.

(In all seriousness, light sabers are already a thing here.)

The museum leaders close by encouraging everyone reading the letter to "seriously consider" the latest plan to build the Lucas Museum at McCormick Place East—a move Friends of the Parks implicitly supported at first, and then, within a day, vowed to legally oppose.

It's very much to be expected that leaders at Chicago museums would support a new Chicago museum, but their argument is worth reading in full. It's easy to take potshots at Friends of the Parks for their valiant legal struggle to protect a parking lot that could hypothetically become a park later (and we've done it, repeatedly)—but this is the meatier argument against their cause.