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Los Angeles City Council approves Lucas Museum

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“An incredible institution that will inspire generations to come”

“It’s going to be a slam dunk,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said about approving plans to build the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles. He was right.

The proposal breezed past its final hurdle in City Hall on Tuesday, with the Los Angeles City Council enthusiastically approving plans to build the new, futuristic-looking art museum in Exposition Park.

George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson had a tough time finding a home for the museum—initially striking out in Chicago and San Francisco.

“Who knew it’d be so hard to give away a museum?” Hobson said, half-joking. “Despite this long journey, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art was always meant to be in Los Angeles.”

Hobson told the council she grew up in Chicago, scheming about the day she’d be successful enough to create a cultural space for everyone, a space “where I belonged.” Now the chairwoman of the board of directors of DreamWorks Animation, she’s embedded in LA, which she said is experiencing a renaissance.

“This is not a vanity project,” she said. “This is something that will serve society well for years to come.”

When Hobson and Lucas announced in January that they definitely wanted to bring the museum to LA, “my office erupted with joy,” said councilmember Joe Buscaino.

The couple was greeted with applause and “thank yous” when they entered council chambers on Tuesday.

Designed by MAD Architects, the five-story museum will look like a spaceship hovering above the park. Garcetti boldly called it “one of the boldest pieces of architecture we’ve seen in the world … [it’s] an incredible institution that will inspire generations to come.”

There will be plenty of parking, with two underground garages that accommodate 2,425 cars.

The museum will house Lucas and Hobson’s personal art collection, as well as Star Wars memorabilia and other movie set pieces. The museum’s website says to think about the collection in three themes: The history of narrative art, the art of cinema, and digital art. The permanent collection includes works by David Hockney and Norman Rockwell, along with digital renderings of contemporary architecture and illustrations from children’s books.

“The whole concept of narrative art has been forgotten,” Lucas told the council. “This kind of art is very important, and it’s especially important to adolescents. Star Wars was done on a lark to tell adolescents, 12 year olds, to think outside of the box … don’t trust anyone over 30.”

The museum will replace parking lots and a soccer field (which will be relocated and improved) and include, in addition to galleries, a café and restaurant, theaters, lecture halls, a library, and classrooms.

At a press conference after Tuesday’s council vote, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said Exposition Park will become “a new destination all over again.”

"[The museum] replaces asphalt, and now it’s a symbol of what’s new and what’s next,” he said.

The museum’s president, Don Bacigalupi, told the council he was anxious to start building. Construction is scheduled to start by early next year with an opening date tentatively set for 2021.