Things have been nice around here since Lucas hightailed it back to the west coast. But there's this gnawing feeling that something is missing: the prospect of a new museum.
Not a museum of narrative art. But an actual film museum.
"Narrative art." That's a term for eggheads. Or for some phony and his friend, the mayor, trying to unload a collection on an unsuspecting public who doesn't know any better.
Take a peek at what "narrative art" means on Wikipedia. Can you figure out how to make a museum out of that mumbo-jumbo? Narrative art is boring, diffuse, impossible to understand. Not something for a city of big shoulders or a city that walks on the wild side.
I think what everyone thought we were going to get on the lakefront inside the melted vanilla ice cream building was a plain old "Film" museum. And we should have one.
With exhibits, classes and historic artifacts all related to the movies. Lectures about film, and visits by film makers and film stars. A museum of everything dealing with film. Including films.
Chicago started the film industry. The old Essanay studios were here. Still are, at 1345 W. Argyle, albeit in a new life as a college--which cherishes its history. It's where the Charlie Chaplin comedies were made in 1915.
Facets, an institution that is all things film, has been thriving for years, also on the north side at 1517 W. Fullerton. Not only as a repository of films themselves, but also as a place on the forefront of film education with a mission.
And right here in the South Loop still stand the buildings of Chicago's Film Row. They supported the movie-showing industry in the early days. Buildings that leased the film reels to the theaters, and sold them everything from the concessions to the tickets, everything anyone would need to run a movie theater. Today these buildings house everything from yoga studios to restaurants. But they're there! A testament to Chicago film history.
Columbia College Chicago, a South Loop institution with a renowned film department pays tribute to "Film Row" at 1104 S. Wabash. And in other ways pays tribute to the early Chicago film industry around its campus.
Steve Reginald, who lives in the South Loop, is a film scholar. I call him a film factotum. He runs a movie group at Daystar Center in the heart of the South Loop and is the kind of guy who could run a Chicago film museum.
But there are a lot of people in this town who could make a film museum hum with activity and information. A lot of people who would make a film museum in Chicago world renowned. And they wouldn't insist on it being part of the Museum Campus--or insist it be on the lakefront, like some people we know.
And don't forget all the interesting, popular films that are made right here in Chicago these days, as well. That's Chicago film history in the making.
There are lots of buildings to repurpose everywhere to give a Chicago film museum a great home. And lots of infill land everywhere on which to build one, if that were the desire. And many generous people who would bankroll it.
Quietly, unassumingly, tastefully. Paying tribute to Chicago's past while looking to Chicago's future.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.