LA City Council Approves George Lucas Art Museum

The Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 to approve an environmental impact report and other requirements needed to clear the way for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art’s construction adjacent to the University of Southern California.

With Tuesday’s approval, plans are to break ground as early as this year and open the museum to the public in 2021. Other than the use of public land, the project is expect to be fully paid for by Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson.

Los Angeles Mayor Erik Garcetti said —

People come to Los Angeles from all over the world to be inspired by art, and to see things they have only imagined become real through storytelling. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will add another world-class institution to our city’s cultural landscape, and bring a breathtaking architectural jewel to Exposition Park. I am proud to have worked with George Lucas and Mellody Hobson to bring this incredible gift to Los Angeles — and I applaud the City Council for voting to approve a gem for South L.A. that will touch the lives of Angelenos and visitors for generations to come.

After failing to win permission to build on the grounds of the Presidio in San Francisco, and being blocked by litigation from accepting a lakefront site in Chicago, Lucas had simultaneously offered the museum to Los Angeles and San Francisco, a competition that depended in part on which city could get the museum through its legal approval process most quickly. LA won out.

Lucas told the press —

I wanted to put it in my hometown. They said no. Mellody wanted to put it in her hometown. They said no. We were both basically heartbroken.

And then we said, ‘All right, let’s clear the boards and find a place that really wants it.’

The museum’s website says the facility “will feature a bold new architectural design and will be a one-of-a-kind gathering place to experience collections, films and exhibitions dedicated to the power of visual storytelling and the evolution of art and moving images.”

The museum collection will began with a large gift from the founders:

  • Traditional paintings by Edgar Degas, Winslow Homer and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, as well as a broad range of original works in popular mediums such as illustration, children’s art, comic art and photography from many periods and cultures. Major holdings include a large number of works by Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, and N.C. Wyeth;
  • An in-depth exploration of all facets of cinematic art and its design processes, including original concept art, storyboards, set design, props, costume and fashion, animation and visual effects;
  • Ground-breaking digital technologies and media used by artists in cinema and other art forms;
  • An expansive art and cinematic research library (print and digital).

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be in Exposition Park near the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the California Science Center and the California African American Museum.

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19 thoughts on “LA City Council Approves George Lucas Art Museum

  1. That rendering says it’s going to be ugly. (Why do architectural competitions so often foster designs that don’t compliment their neighborhoods?)

  2. As a resident of Chicago, this reminds me that I need to go and throw a brick through the window of the “Friends of the Park(ing lot)” Thanks a lot, assholes.

    (Author’s Note: I won’t actually be throwing a brick through anyone’s window)

  3. Man, that is one ugly building. The green roof is the only part that I like.
    I wish any of the articles that I found had a better description of what’s there now. Are we losing the rose garden? Parking? Old unused buildings? I’m not good at turning aerial renderings into mental maps without all the buildings being labeled. Or the streets. I have no sense of direction.

  4. Comparing the design photo against this overhead photo — it looks like the museum will be sited where two parking lots are now. The rose garden is safe.


  5. Thanks Mike!

    I really love that Rose Garden, though it’s sometimes hard to view around all the brides getting their photos taken there.

    I hope they have a plan for parking. You can never count on that here.

  6. Mike, there’s a certain amusement in that photo having “UCLA” in the top corner, seeing as it shows the south edge of USC.

  7. PJ Evans: Mike, there’s a certain amusement in that photo having “UCLA” in the top corner, seeing as it shows the south edge of USC.

    True. The Coliseum was also the home field for UCLA football from 1928-1981. Perhaps that’s why there’s a photo on the UCLA site, where I found it.

  8. It still looks like a women’s razor to me.

    With all the cinematic stuff, USC is the perfect place for it.

  9. lurkertype: It still looks like a women’s razor to me.

    It does, doesn’t it?

    We’ll see whether people are bothered that it doesn’t mesh with the Romanesque/Spanish arches in everything else around that area. I will say it doesn’t bother me, and I went 4 years to USC and spent a lot of time in that vicinity. To me, LA is still the place with a Chinese theater, that chain of ice cream stores designed to look like cones (no longer extant), the Big Donut, the Shrine Auditorium with its ogee arches, and all the rest of the anachronistic architecture that looks like it dropped out of the sky.

  10. +1 for razor, which means it will fit in really well in LA, the place I think of when weird architecture comes to mind. I predict it will become beloved.

    I haven’t followed along at all; is this design specific to the Los Angeles site?

  11. I think it looks cool, and I love the green roof. And I think it is well-suited to the location; there would be no point in using precious waterfront space for a building which will have minimal windows and which will not be free to the public.

    I look forward to hopefully getting to visit it at some point in the future.

  12. @Mike: I think it should go full Googie.

    Green roofs are so de rigueur nowadays that I didn’t even notice.

    I will say it’s not as fugly as the Chicago design was.

  13. Mike – I agree with you 100% about the blended architectural soup that is LA and it’s a wonderful thing. I don’t remember exactly where it was, but I do remember looking on in delight at a block of homes in an older neighborhood with a Spanish hacienda, a Japanese temple look, a witch’s cottage ringer and a very clean mid-century modern piece all in a row.

    I really like the look of the building, especially if it ties the neighborhood on the west side of the park in as the rendering suggests it will. That part of the park has been problematic for a long time. I’m looking forward to it.

  14. Mike, I think your shot is of the wrong the parking lot. I see a D shaped pool at the back right of the rendered image, front left of yours.

    I think this will land beside the Natural History Museum on Lot 2 and Jesse Brewer Jr. Park at the bottom of this Google maps link.

  15. Niall McAuley: You’re right about where it’s going to land. There are three consecutive parking lots on the south side of Exposition Park. It looks like the museum building will occupy two of them, and the third will perhaps be landscaped as a park — and while I was right about the middle one, it looks like you’re right that the other will be the lot beside the Natural History Museum. But that is still on the opposite site of Exposition Park from the Rose Garden, which will remain intact.

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