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Presidio Trust’s Lucas Cultural Arts Museum decision opens door for Chicago

The Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, once a leading candidate for a coveted spot in The Presidio of San Francisco, may be heading to Chicago. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has begun pulling out all of the stops to convince the Star Wars director that the Windy City is the right place for the proposed cutting edge multimedia arts museum.

For more than two years the Presidio Trust considered proposals on what should be built as the gateway building between Chrissy Field and the Presidio’s Main Post. The Trust wants a project that would continue the mission to make the Presidio self-sufficient by attracting tourism while staying true to the natural beauty of the military base turned National Park.

The February 3 press conference where the Presidio Trust rejected all three proposals that had been in contention for more than two years was a surprise. It came one week after a public meeting where the organization had laid out the process for how it would spend the next few months deliberating.

During the process Lucas had said Chicago would be an option if the Presidio Trust shot down his pledge to spend $700 million of his personal finances to build and endow the museum. That suggestion now seems to be completely in play as Chicago has given civic leaders one month to find an “accessible” space for the Lucas collection.

In comments made to the Chicago Sun Times it’s already clear that Chicago understands what Lucas was bringing to the table better than the Presidio Trust ever did. Task force co-chair Gillian Darlow told the newspaper, “when you look at George Lucas’ career and interests, he’s a man who has broken boundaries and discovered and invented things people didn’t think of before. This museum is bound to capture that and be a museum like no other. There aren’t museums looking at digital art and the art of storytelling like this. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Chicago.”

However, Chicago isn’t the only city hoping to be considered for the project. Oakland is hoping to be considered for the project. Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan wrote a letter to Lucas suggesting the city’s Kaiser Convention Center would be appropriate and Oakland-native MC Hammer has suggested putting it near Jack London Square. Oakland could provide a perfect backdrop for the museum as an urban myth has long touted the cargo cranes of the Port of Oakland as being the inspiration for the design of the Star Wars AT-ATs.

The Presidio Trust has suggested to Lucas that there may be other sites in the Presidio where his museum may be a good fit. Lucas spokesman David Perry said they’d consider other options in the Presidio, but that they’d also start looking into options being offered by other cities.

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