Unpopular geek opinion time! I'm glad Chicago won't be getting The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. I've heard so many arguments in its favor from people I normally agree with. For many reasons, though, this concept never clicked for me.
First, I don't think the Lucas Museum would've brought a job creation boon. The construction jobs would have been temporary. The work needed to build a museum may seem extensive, but it represents a tiny fraction of the construction done in Chicago year-round. Exhibit design is often sourced out-of-state, meaning NOT Illinois. Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, for example, has commissioned companies in Arizona and New York for exhibit work. Finally, museum professionals (tour guides, managers, etc.) are often pulled from a singular population: college educated, artistic, nonprofit-loving, and white. Sadly, candidates outside of this group are rarely taken seriously by the Chicago museum community. Trust me, I've worked there.
Overall, I feel like George Lucas never treated Chicago with great regard. He only looked here after San Fran didn't work out. We were his consolation prize. He also didn't seem interested in any property other than lakefront, when we have many beautiful neighborhoods that could've used the boost. It all feels a little insulting to my city.
Speaking of my city, saying "Yes" to George Lucas would've created a slippery slope. I know the initial area in question was a parking lot. I know the Friends of the Parks were being totally bullheaded. However, there WERE preservation parameters set. If George Lucas can buy and/or argue his way past those limitations, who else can? Would some amount of money or celebrity forever be a "get out of restrictions free" card? I find the implications scary. Whether or not you agree with the parking lot being useful, we do NOT want all of our lakefront land gobbled up and privatized.
OH HEY, ALSO, ILLINOIS IS BROKE. The second choice location for the Lucas Museum would've cost us over a billion in debt. This is deeply problematic when we're continually forced to see cuts from education, rehab facilities, and everywhere in between. We're already drowning. The Lucas family never won me over with the argument that the museum was a "philanthropic gift." I'm not sure that word means what they think it means.
I suppose the museum would have brought in tourism... maybe. People have the wrong idea about what this museum is going to be. It's absolutely not a Star Wars museum. Sure, there's a lot of rhetoric out there about storytelling and narration, but all through a Lucas-centric lens. I can't help but feel like this is just a huge storage facility for a rich man's stuff, with a theme clumsily papered over it. I'll waive this argument, though, because now we'll never know.
Come on, Star Wars geeks. When did anything good EVER happen when George Lucas was given total creative control? Do you want Jar Jar Binks? Because that's how you get Jar Jar Binks!
...OK, you may now begin throwing rocks at me. <3
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