SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Local elected officials were ecstatic Jan. 10 on hearing the news that filmmaking legend George Lucas had decided to locate his planned Museum of Narrative Art in Exposition Park.
“Today, the force is with South Los Angeles,” City Councilman Curren Price said. “After long-awaited anticipation, what began as a dream is now a reality.”
“As the local representative of the area, I stand ready to fulfill the vision for the $1 billion cultural institution. To say this project will be a game-changer for South Los Angeles is an understatement,” Price added.
“The Lucas Museum will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs, educational opportunities for families, college students and educators, increased tourism and economic growth for South L.A. and the city as a whole.”
“Exposition Park is the ideal site for the Lucas Museum, as it is already a destination hub in the county, with ample and consistent public transportation and convenient access to multiple freeways,” county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas added. “Its proximity to USC, along with dozens of elementary, middle and high schools, will help boost the learning experience of thousands of children each year, and provide an understanding of the science and technological skills needed for a career in the film, animation and design industries.”
The selection was announced by the museum’s board of directors, who selected Exposition Park over a competing bid from San Francisco.
“We have been humbled by the overwhelmingly positive support we received from both San Francisco and Los Angeles during our selection process,” a statement from the museum board said. “Settling on a location proved to be an extremely difficult decision precisely because of the desirability of both sites and cities.”
Board members thanked officials from both cities, but said the South Los Angeles Promise Zone in which Exposition Park sits “best positions the museum to have the greatest impact on the broader community, fulfilling our goal of inspiring, engaging and educating a broad and diverse visitorship.”
“Exposition Park is a magnet for the region and accessible from all parts of the city. As a museum uniquely focused on narrative art, we look forward to becoming part of a dynamic museum community, surrounded by more than 100 elementary and high schools, one of the country’s leading universities as well as three other world-class museums.”
The museum will house works by painters such as Edgar Degas, Winslow Homer and Pierre-Auguste Renior; illustrations, comic art and photography by artists such as Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth; as well as storyboards, props and other items from popular films, all in an effort to create a “barrier-free museum” where “artificial divisions between ‘high’ art and ‘popular’ art are absent,” the museum’s website said.
Lucas is best known for creating the “Star Wars” film franchise, producing the “Indiana Jones” franchise and founding Industrial Light & Magic, a visual effects company.
The filmmaker has connections to both Los Angeles and San Francisco. He has been a longtime resident of the Bay Area, where Industrial Light & Magic is located, and attended film school at USC, which is adjacent to Exposition Park. In 2015, he donated $10 million to his alma mater.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hailed the selection, saying visitors to the museum “will enjoy an extraordinary collection anchored in storytelling — an art that carries so much meaning in the history and legacy of Los Angeles.”
“L.A. is gaining a new jewel with the breathtaking Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and its presence here means that a day at Exposition Park will soon bring unrivaled opportunities to be immersed in stories told on canvas and celluloid, be moved by the richness of African-American history and expression, be awed by the wonders of science and the natural world, take a journey to the world of space exploration and sit in the stands for a world-class sporting event.”
Exposition Park is already home to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, the California Science Center and the California African American Museum.