The most recent iteration of the project—sited in Los Angeles’s Exposition Park, across the street from the University of Southern California, George Lucas’s alma mater—represented the third attempt to find a home for the itinerant museum-to-be. Previously, Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson, who is the chairperson for DreamWorks Animation and a driving force behind the project, had tried for two separate sites, first in the San Francisco Presidio and later in Chicago’s Jackson Park. Both efforts were rebuffed by community activists.
Last fall, the Lucas Museum board of directors made another push for California by selecting two potential sites in the Golden State, with a site on San Francisco’s Treasure Island and one in L.A.’s Exposition Park competing for the $1 billion museum. The Los Angeles site was chosen earlier this year amid much public fanfare on the part of elected officials. Some, however, fear the project will bring increased gentrification to the working class neighborhoods surrounding the park.
Proposed site plan for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which would replace an existing parking lot and soccer field at the western edge of Exposition Park in L.A. (Courtesy MAD Architects)
The proposed 300,000-square-foot complex will rise five stories—roughly 115 feet—and contain a movie theater, lecture hall, library, restaurant, and digital classroom spaces, all in addition to its galleries. The boat-shaped structure, according to renderings, will be lifted off the ground via two large piers containing the ancillary programs mentioned above. Three floors of continuous gallery spaces will span above the piers, with a planted rooftop terrace capping off the entire complex. The museum will be underpinned by a 2,425-stall parking complex located underground and will be surrounded by nearly 11 acres of new parkland. The museum’s collection, according to the Lucas Museum website, will be divided into three categories: Narrative Art, Art in Cinema, and Digital Art. The museum will also make its debut with a $400 million endowment.
The unanimous approval from the L.A. City Council paves the way for the museum to break ground in 2018. The museum is expected to open in 2021.