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Lucas chooses Chicago for his art, memorabilia museum

The Star Wars creator picks Chicago as the home for his art, memorabilia museum over San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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Get your lightsabers ready: The George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is coming to Chicago.

George Lucas and the museum board announced Tuesday they had chosen Chicago as the home for the museum, beating out San Francisco and Los Angeles.

It all started more than four years ago, in a galaxy far, far away -- also known as George Lucas’ home of San Francisco. Lucas’ originally wanted to build his museum for art and movie memorabilia at Crissy Field, land owned by the Presidio Trust. But when his plans were rejected earlier this year, he began looking into other options.

In a statement, the Lucas Museum board says Chicago’s proposed site by Soldier Field was “significantly larger” and closer to public transportation than the sites San Francisco was offering. The board also lauded Chicago’s museum campus - the proposed site for the museum - as “vibrant,” and “centrally located in a city renowned for its love of art and architecture.”

Though he’s from California, Lucas has his own personal connections to Chicago. Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, is a prominent businesswoman from Chicago. The couple celebrated their wedding at Promontory Point along the Lake Michigan shore. The city closed down the entire park for the event.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been lobbying for major cultural institutions to move to or take root in Chicago. A mayoral-appointed task force last month recommended the Lucas museum be built along the lakefront, in the now-parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place

Emanuel called landing the Lucas Museum a “tremendous opportunity” for the city. He’s said in the past taxpayers wouldn’t be footing the bill for the billion-dollar investment.

The mayor has also attempted to assure Bears fans that the Lucas museum won’t keep them from tailgating before home games. Last month, he told reporters at an unrelated event that “there’s going to be tailgating. Full stop.”

“I can’t thank George and Mellody enough,” he said. “No other major American city has these type of cultural education institutions, with a great Northerly Island creating a vibrant, green museum campus - unparalleled in the United States.”

In a statement, George Lucas says Chicago is the right decision for the museum, but the Bay area will always be his home.

Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ Reporter. Follow her @laurenchooljian

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