Plans for Lucas Museum Hit Major Snag in Chicago Court

An architectural rendering of the planned Lucas Museum of Narrative Art on Chicago's lakefront museum campus (Photo courtesy Lucas Museum of Narrative Art).

An architectural rendering of the planned Lucas Museum of Narrative Art on Chicago’s lakefront museum campus (Photo courtesy Lucas Museum of Narrative Art).

The Force is not strong with the planned Lucas Museum for Narrative Art.

A Chicago judge ruled Thursday that local conservation group Friends of the Parks could move forward with a suit to block construction of George Lucas’ radical new museum on the city’s lakefront. The lawsuit, filed in November, claims the planned site for the institution is part of a protected waterway belonging to the state and cannot legally be privately developed.

The museum is slated to be built on Chicago’s museum campus near the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium.

“We believe the siting of the Lucas Museum in this lakefront location contradicts the public trust doctrine,” Friends of the Parks president Cassandra Francis said in a statement. “The Lucas Museum is not a public use.”

The mayoral runoff election on April 7 may decide the future of the Lucas Museum. Current mayor Rahm Emanuel supports Lucas’ project and its planned location. His challenger, former state senator Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, doesn’t.

“I strongly oppose the $400 million vanity project, which Mayor Emanuel is building for his backers from Hollywood,” Garcia wrote in response to a Chicago Sun-Times questionnaire.

George Lucas conceived his museum as a love letter to “narrative art,” works in any medium that tell a linear story. It will be broken into sections on Narrative Art, The Art of Cinema, and Digital Art, and will incorporate works from Lucas’ collection as well as memorabilia from his films.

Plans for the museum have steadily plodded along for the past year. Last June Lucas and his advisers announced Chicago would be the institution’s home. They unveiled an official website in October, and in November announced a founding president: Don Bacigalupi, former president of Alice Walton’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel had an almost 15-point lead over Garcia as of Friday. Perhaps we should prepare ourselves for Lucas to channel Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in “A New Hope,” who warned, “Strike me down, and I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”

Plans for Lucas Museum Hit Major Snag in Chicago Court