Update on the Lucas Museum: Official Statement from Mellody Hobson

Update on the Lucas Museum: Official Statement from Mellody Hobson

Lucas Museum

The ongoing, seemingly never-ending, legal battle over the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art could be coming to an unfortunate conclusion. The proposed museum was to be built on lakefront property in Chicago — on land that is currently a parking lot — but plans were halted due to a lawsuit by a small environmental group, Friends of the Parks. They maintain the land is protected and an alternate location should be considered.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel did exactly that — proposed a new location, still on the lakefront. The new proposal involved replacing outdated convention space with the Lucas Museum. Friends of the Parks has raised objections to that site as well.

In response, Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, has issued the following statement:

“My husband and I have worked in earnest for two years, side-by-side with every relevant city agency, community leader, and policy maker, to give what would be the largest philanthropic gift to an American city in the 21st century. From the beginning, this process has been co-opted and hijacked by a small special interest group. When the Friends of the Parks sued the city in order to preserve a parking lot, we were offered a different and feasible solution—the replacement of an underutilized and outdated convention space that would also add more than 12 acres of new parkland. Yet, even with this additional park space, an organization that claims to ‘preserve, protect, improve and promote the use of parks and open space’ now opposes this as well. 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.

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. This is a city of big shoulders and a metropolis that is second to none. In refusing to accept the extraordinary public benefits of the museum, the Friends of the Parks has proven itself to be no friend of Chicago. We are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago. If the museum is forced to leave, it will be because of the Friends of the Parks and that is no victory for anyone.”

It appears frustration over this whole debacle is taking its toll, and you can’t fault George Lucas and Mellody Hobson for wanting a resolution — even if it means leaving Chicago behind. If that happens, it will be a sad day indeed….

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  1. Melinda
    May 3, 2016 at 20:07 Reply

    I am all for protecting our planet’s natural beauty, but this is absolutely ridiculous. The biggest irony is the group’s fight regarding the alternate location! If anyone can explain the logic of this fight, please explain it to me. I would be interested in what benefit keeping the museum from this alternate site would be.

    If the Lucases can’t find a home for the museum in Chicago, I say — come to your northern neighbor — MILWAUKEE!!! We have a beautiful lakefront, and I bet you’d find a warmer reception up here!

    I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for Chicago — but I certainly wouldn’t mind if Milwaukee was a viable alternative. 🙂

    1. MWH1980
      May 4, 2016 at 11:23 Reply

      The general response from FOTP was to them, keeping the lakefront open and clear. Even Rahm’s ‘Plan b’ to them was an afront against that message.

      Their stance is, ‘we’d have no problems with the museum, but we don’t want it anywhere down by the waterfront.’

      Though that has largely been one of Lucas’ sticking points if one looks at his plans here and when trying to get the museum built near San Francisco’s Presidio site.

      My guess is as some have said, this is George’s last hurrah, and he wanted some place to go to sit back, have a cup of coffee, and just walk around the museum, while also allowing its collection to be viewed by others.

      One could imagine him up on that upper ringed skydeck, just enjoying the sunlight, looking out onto Lake Michigan.

      And besides, it’s not like he was going to build a huge cube monolith akin to McCormick Place East. his structure’s ‘weird design’ was meant to evoke something almost carved by nature, but with a more futuristic design an construction…but this is the Midwest, where anything not having 4 sides and looking like a square, is subject to mass ridicule.

  2. Leah Poland-Hooker
    May 3, 2016 at 23:55 Reply

    See if Oregon will take it, especially Eastern Oregon.

  3. Michael
    May 4, 2016 at 01:27 Reply

    Heck, they can knock down my house and put the museum here. Just give me a room near all the Star Wars memorabilia and GL’s awesome collection of comics art and we’ll call it even.

  4. Joel
    May 4, 2016 at 12:10 Reply

    How can such a small group be so effective in undermining this project? The irony isn’t lost on me though, (small band of Rebels defeating the Empire).

    Happy(?) May the 4th everyone.

  5. Pat Carlson
    May 4, 2016 at 13:29 Reply

    The hypocrisy of Hobson is amazing. First of all, she knows nothing about the importance of ‘Friends of the Park.’ This comes from Montgomery Ward over 100 years ago who had laws put in place to preserve the Lakefront. FOTP are not protecting a parking space. They want the lot and McCormick gone. If the Bears had any brains, they’d be out in the burbs, with Soldier Field and the lots now open parkland. She makes a big deal about black children being deprived of this museum. YET, she refuses to accept the Michael Reese hospital site. This would be much easier reached by the very people she claims to want to help. Also, this is not a museum like the public ones we have that are run by the city. She doesn’t give a damn about the children. Only her super rich husband who doesn’t care at all about our city.

    1. Ronald wild
      May 4, 2016 at 19:59 Reply

      Well said.

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