Entertainment & Arts

George Lucas museum approved by Chicago council

George Lucas Image copyright PA
Image caption Lucas plans to fill the museum with film memorabilia and his prized art collection

Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas' plans to build a $400m (£262m) museum along the shores of Chicago's Lake Michigan have been approved.

The city council voted overwhelming in favour of the 300,000 sq ft Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

The museum will house artefacts, costumes and memorabilia from movies including Star Wars and Indiana Jones, along with artworks collected by Lucas.

The director decided last year to build it in Chicago instead of San Francisco.

The city in Lucas' home state of California was widely expected to be chosen as the museum's site, as it is home to Lucasfilm's visual effects division, so it was considered a major coup for Chicago when it was announced.

Lucas does have ties with Chicago though, the third largest city in the US, which he has referred to as his "second home" in the past, and is from where his wife, Mellody Hobson, hails.

Futuristic design

Image copyright Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The project has been strongly endorsed by the city's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who says it will create jobs and expand cultural opportunities on the lakefront where there are already other museums.

Construction could begin next spring, with the museum operating by 2019.

However, not everyone is keen, with critics calling the proposed building an eyesore on protected lakefront property.

The futuristic design, which includes an observation deck resembling a floating disc, has been modified in response to some of the criticism and is now 100,000 sq ft smaller than original plans.

A Chicago parks protection group is suing the city in federal court to block the museum, claiming it violates an Illinois state trust meant to ensure the area is kept free for access to activities on Lake Michigan. Both sides are due back in court on 10 November.

The museum will be located south of the Soldier Field stadium, home to The Chicago Bears football team - which successfully won a battle over parking lots that will ensure fans can still have tailgate parties outside before games.

Among the items said to be in the museum's collection are Norman Rockwell paintings and a scale model of the Millennium Falcon, the spacecraft helmed by Han Solo in the original film series.

It will also include three auditoriums where visitors can watch films and attend lectures and workshops.

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