Although it has already technically landed in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park, visitors will now have to wait a bit longer for the swooping, extraterrestrial spacecraft-esque Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to open its doors.
As first reported by the Los Angeles Times, the ongoing saga of the delayed-plagued institution devoted to image-based storytelling continues with news that it will now open in 2025 due to supply chain issues stemming from COVID crisis. After shifting from Chicago to an 11-acre campus in South L.A. in 2016 following local pushback, the high-profile project was initially supposed to open this year. In April 2021, however, the museum announced that an opening would take place a year later, in 2023, due to pandemic-related slowdowns. That planned 2023 debut was apparently just too soon as now the curvilinear 300,000-square-foot museum complex, designed by MAD Architects with Stantec in the role of executive architect and Studio–MLA helming the campus landscape design, has been pushed back another two years.
The $1 billion project first broke ground in March 2018.
Museum officials announced the new opening year in a September 20 press release while also revealing construction milestones and detailing recent additions to the forthcoming museum’s already-sprawling collection of narrative art, which will include works that span “from ancient Roman mosaics to Renaissance painting to contemporary photography,” the museum elaborated. “Representing diverse cultures and artistic media, the museum’s collection demonstrates the breadth of themes and viewpoints with which narrative art can engage dynamic and diverse publics.” Newly acquired works within the collection include The Judgment of Solomon (1526) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, John Singer Sargent’s Las Meninas, After Velásquez (1879), George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook (1975) by Robert Colescott, The Drum Major (2003) by Erin Barnes, Cara Romero’s The Last Indian Market (2015), and Kadir Nelson’s Art Connoisseurs (2019).
The massive trove of narrative art, including the works above, that will ultimately be on view across the museum’s three-level, 100,000-square-foot gallery are pulled from billionaire Star Wars impresario George Lucas’s 100,000-object-plus collection of paintings, photographs, murals, sculptures, and more. In addition to gallery space, the Lucas Museum will also include two theaters, classrooms, restaurants, retail, event space, and more.
Said Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Director and CEO Sandra Jackson-Dumont in a statement:
“It’s humbling and energizing to see how all aspects of this new public resource are taking shape. We believe that narrative art can connect us and help shape a more just society. As a result, every element of this institution contributes to that idea—the site is one physical manifestation of that. The campus with its iconic building and arched belly that creates a canopy, coupled with the 200-plus trees taking root in the park, together create another community gathering place with much needed shade for our neighbors and others who will use the site. Another manifestation of that idea is the museum’s wonderfully evolving collection of narrative art that features multifaceted perspectives through the stories humans have told throughout history. Through these works, we hope to ignite complex and nuanced conversation that may impact the ways folks understand the world, but perhaps even what they decide to do in the world. We’re thrilled to share this significant progress, and I look forward to keeping the public informed as we forge ahead.”
As for construction milestones, the museum shared that the installation of the five-story structure’s more than 1,500 curved glass fiber–reinforced polymer panels has now begun on the southern facade of the building. Meanwhile, tree-planting efforts have kicked off on the museum’s park-like grounds, which will also feature an amphitheater, hanging garden, and pedestrian bridge.
In addition to the Lucas Museum, another major project underway at Exposition Park, a state-owned complex first established in 1872 as agricultural fairgrounds, is a space shuttle–accommodating 200,000-square-foot expansion of the California Science Center led by ZGF Architects. Also located at the 160-acre Exposition Park are the National History Museum of Los Angeles County (also currently undergoing an expansion), the California African American Museum, the Gensler-designed Banc of California Stadium, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Those last two park-anchoring sites will serve as major venues during the 2028 Summer Olympics, with the historic L.A. Coliseum slated to host both the opening and closing ceremonies.
Although cutting it a smidge closer than first anticipated, the Lucas Museum will still debut well before the 2028 Summer Games commence.