Lightsabers at dawn in battle for Star Wars museum
Three cities are fighting to host George Lucas’s collection of art and franchise memorabilia
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Sunday 22 June 2014
A fight to find the site for a museum containing the film-maker George Lucas’s personal collection of Star Wars memorabilia could turn intergalactic. Three US cities are now vying for the privilege of housing the planned Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, after the Star Wars creator’s preferred San Francisco location declined his proposal.
The museum would be devoted to populist American art and storytelling from the past 150 years, and based on Lucas’s collection of art and artefacts, which includes original works by the painters Norman Rockwell, NC Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish, as well as the original costumes for Darth Vader, Chewbacca et al. Lucas plans to spend $300m (£176m) building the museum, and to leave a further $400m endowment after his death. The problem, however, is where to put it.
Federal officials have denied Lucas his original wish to build in the Presidio park, close to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. He grew up in nearby Modesto and still lives at his Skywalker Ranch in neighbouring Marin County. On his museum website, he outlined why he believes San Francisco would make an ideal location.
“The Bay Area has always been home to forward-thinkers and artistic innovators – people who push to do things that haven’t been done before,” Lucas wrote. “Men like Eadweard Muybridge, Philo Farnsworth and Steve Jobs. Companies like Pixar, Adobe, Facebook. There’s a history of invention here that’s as exciting as it is infectious.”
As San Francisco city officials scramble to find an alternative site, Chicago has swept into the battle. Its mayor, Rahm Emanuel – formerly chief of staff to Barack Obama – is lobbying Lucas to bring his institution to the Windy City.
Lucas’s wife, Mellody Hobson, is from Chicago, which the film-maker has described as his second home. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has also staked its claim to the museum. Eric Garcetti, the mayor, recently wrote to Lucas personally, offering him the site of the LA Memorial Sports Arena, close to the University of Southern California, where the director studied film in the 1960s.
A final decision is expected to be made this summer.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West