George Lucas is at the center of a new epic struggle.
The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art has been in the works for several years, bouncing from San Francisco to Chicago, and then back to the West Coast after its construction was blocked at several locations. Now Lucas and his executives are set to make a decision by the end of the month, the Associated Press reported, and both cities are making their final pleas.
Mayors in both cities have signed on to the project, as politicians and tourism professionals alike give impassioned arguments as to why their city should score the museum. If Lucas chooses San Francisco, the building designed by architect Ma Yansong will occupy four acres on man-made Treasure Island. If Los Angeles is selected, the museum will be nestled in Exposition Park.
“They’re proposing an island—versus here, which is the opposite of an island: a place where there’s fellow cultural institutions,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told Travel + Leisure, speaking of the location in Exposition Park. “It brings people who are not traditional museum goers into a museum.”
On the pro-San Francisco side of the matter, Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association, pointed to Lucas’ personal affinities for the Bay Area.
“I believe that San Francisco is a logical fit. George Lucas lives here; he works here,” D’Alessandro told T+L. “The location is extraordinary. There’s nothing quite like this.”
Described as a “barrier free museum” by the project’s website, the Museum of Narrative Art is slated to be more than a collection of memorabilia from Lucas’ films.
The museum will display a collection of more than 40,000 works of art and objects including more traditional paintings from Edgar Degas, Winslow Homer and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, as well as a host of exhibits specific to film, set design, props, and other items from film production.
Star Wars fans should also be excited, as Lucas intends to display many objects related to the franchise, including early storyboards.
Both cities covet the museum as a tourist boon, as Lucas will fully finance its $1-billion construction and endow the museum with $400 million for operations, making the attraction an essentially cost-free development.
“It seems to be going smoothly from our end,” Adam Van de Water, the project leader for the mayor’s office told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We are doing our due diligence and hoping for the best.”
The Los Angeles Times dedicated a December editorial board column to arguing why the museum should be built in their hometown.
“Lucas and Hobson should make Los Angeles their top choice because here the museum would be set in a park that is already a vibrant cultural destination, easily accessible by rail or car to visitors, USC students and schoolchildren alike,” wrote the newspaper's editorial board. “Enthusiastic community and political support would ease the process of getting the project built.”