Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lucas’ museum: Too little, too late?

Reading the news accounts Friday of how we may very well wind up with filmmaker George Lucas’ vision for a pop culture museum after all make me a tad skeptical.
Is it possible for this George Lucas vision to ever come close to reality in Chicago?
For while I don’t doubt that Lucas, a San Francisco-area resident, gave some thought to locating his pet project in our beloved Chicago, I wonder if there has just been too much negativity for him to want to bother with us any longer.

WE MAY HAVE had a shot at gaining this museum for our city’s collection of public attractions. But I wonder if Lucas is too turned off on Chicago to bother to put his Museum of Narrative Art here.

I also wonder if perhaps we’re now better off if this project winds up going somewhere else. Perhaps Los Angeles? Who’s to say!

Much has been made of the political fight that has arisen in Chicago, as it seems Lucas was determined to get a location in the Second City along the Lake Michigan lakefront. One near downtown so that you’d get clear views of the city’s iconic skyline.

It can’t be a real Chicago museum unless the soon-to-be-former Willis Tower looms over it!

OF COURSE, THE fight was coming from Friends of the Parks, the environmentalist group that would love to see the whole lakefront be one long sandy beach and thinks there already has been enough development in Chicago.

They’re the ones who filed the lawsuit that has tangled up the project in court so thoroughly that Lucas has become frustrated and started seeking out other cities as a potential location – namely the aforementioned City of the Angels.

But now, the news reports inspired largely by a Sneedscoop in the Chicago Sun-Times say Friends of the Parks may well drop their lawsuit. Although later reports by the Chicago Tribune followed in the journalistic tradition of knocking down someone else's exclusive -- they claimed Friends of the Parks had no intention of backing off its lawsuit. Which would, or would not, eliminate the primary obstacle and allow the City Council to behave in their usual manner and merely give rubber-stamp approval to anything that Rahm Emanuel tells them to.

It would allow for the museum to be built on part of the property now used by the McCormick Place convention center (a place most Chicagoans visit solely to see the Chicago Auto Show every February – where they dream of being able to buy the latest cars and date the models who present them, before they get back into their “beaters” and return to reality).

SUPPOSEDLY, THE CITY would find ways to create more public parkland along the lakefront, in exchange for this use of lakefront for the museum. Although the real reason may well be the reports saying the Friends of the Parks were advised by attorneys that their lawsuit in the long-run would be a loser.

A judge could very well find that their concerns about lakefront land use for private development were invalid, and that the museum should have been permitted to be built.

But by then, the facility could be up and running elsewhere. Friends of the Parks could wind up looking incredibly stupid. Thereby causing the desire to settle this whole affair out of court while there’s still a chance Lucas could be appeased into wanting to come to Chicago after all.

Who knows what the chances are of that happening.

FOR THE FACT is that a project like this is about egos being stroked. Having someone go to court to challenge this dream is just the kind of thing that would kill it off in Chicago.

Personally, if I were a part of the group trying to locate the museum, I’d be inclined to think the hassle isn’t worth it – particularly if locating in Chicago would mean having to cope with Midwestern winter weather.

They may find a more mild climate to be a place to put a museum meant to appeal to our pop culture fantasies. It certainly wouldn’t be something along the line of our Field Museum that tries to educate us about our natural history.

Which means that getting this project back after Lucas has started to let himself be seduced by Hollywood and L.A. glamour could wind up with such a high price for our fair city that it may turn out to not be worth it.


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