Another day another lawsuit involving George Lucas, amirite? But this time, instead of the notoriously litigious Lucasfilms suing a brewery or some such thing, it's an advocacy group throwing up a lawsuit against George Lucas, claiming assault…against the shores of Lake Michigan.
THR reports a Chicago conservation organization called Friends of the Parks has filed a lawsuit to stop George Lucas from planting his Lucas Museum of Narrative Art on the shores of Lake Michigan. It's not the museum itself the advocacy group takes issue with; just its location. Friends of the Parks' president Cassandra Francis explained to reporters:
"Chicago's lakefront is the envy of waterfront cities throughout the world. The humongous scale of the museum is ... an assault to the shores of Lake Michigan."
The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art needs to be massive to hold the Star Wars director's sprawling collection of movie memorabilia. The collection includes illustrations by Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth, along with works by Lucas's visual effects company, and Industrial Light and Magic. So expect it to be a mecca to Star Wars fans.
After years of negotiations to build the would-be museum on the San Francisco Bay, Lucas's wife Mellody Hobson suggested they look for a location in her hometown of Chicago. She was convinced Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel would jump at the chance to lay claim to such a sure-fire tourist attraction. Especially since all Lucas was asking for was the land. He'd cover the cost of the museum's construction.
However, the land is exactly the issue at the heart of the matter for Friends of the Parks. According to this advocacy group, the land around Lake Michigan is public trust property, meaning the government is required to maintain it as an open space to preserve natural resources. So while the allotted land for The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is currently a parking lot south of Soldier Field, FotP claims it should be for " access to navigation, fishing and commerce on Lake Michigan." Building a privately funded museum on the location would basically be illegal, according to their reading of the public trust doctrine. That Lucas would be leasing the land is irrelevant.
THR notes that battles over development on the shores of Lake Michigan have been ongoing, with conservationists fending off developers. But can Friends of the Parks effectively fight off George Lucas, a well-connected man who already has the mayor on his side, plus enough of personal wealth to bank roll a "humongous" museum?
Here's a look at the concept art for the museum's exterior, courtesy of Lucasmuseum.org.
While Lucas described this as "organic architecture, connected to the ground. And it will look like a living thing," an unimpressed Chicago council member claimed it looks like "a palace for Jabba the Hutt."
Neither George Lucas, a representative for his would-be museum, nor Rahm Emanuel have offered comment on this matter. We'll give you more on this story as it develops.