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The many faces of the Lucas Museum

Proposed institution has seen as many new versions as new homes

George Lucas clearly learned the fine art of persistence during his many years in Hollywood.

After six years, his Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (which would hold, among other things, the filmmaker’s private treasure trove of Hollywood memorabilia) still has no home, and has been chased out of both San Francisco and Chicago.

But he’s still at it, pondering dueling proposals to establish the institution either in LA or on Treasure Island, the latter of which would presumably meet less resistance locally than his original Crissy Field ideas.

And through all of this, the design of the building has shapeshifted this way and that. The LA Times has the latest new look, but first let’s take a trip down memory lane.

  • Crissy Field (2010-2014)

This was the classical, conservative, Palace of Fine Arts-inspired number that Lucas originally wanted. A surprisingly traditionalist take from a man noted for his love of constantly updating the old.

While it seems pretty inoffensive next to various other San Francisco buildings with similar neo-classical attitudes (who doesn’t love the Palace of Fine Arts, after all?), the design was reportedly a big part of what turned some locals off from the project.

To critics, the building looked huge and ostentatious, and the homage to the classics seemed self-important. Maybe that’s why he went a different direction the next time.

  • Chicago (2014-2016)

The design by Beijing-based MAD Architects certainly didn’t default to any of the classics, unless that classic is Space Mountain. Again, some decried its showiness and apparent dearth of windows, but at least some of the critics thought its snowy slopes look was a creative boon.

Whether because it was dubbed best suited for the Chicago locale or whether Lucas and others on the project just wanted a clean break, they left this design behind when they exited the Windy City.

But MAD Architect’s Ma Yansong stayed on board to dream up the newest of the new notions.

LA/Treasure Island (2016-?)

The San Francisco Chronicle’s John King compared it to a silver cloud. Others have played up the obvious similarities to sleek, liquid-like spacecrafts, including a few from Lucas’ own movies.

(Mostly the recent ones, which had more polished technology than the old, junky freighters and warships of the Star Wars films of the previous century.)

The renderings place the museum in LA, but nobody has yet made a decision about its final destination. The Times notes that the LA location is already rather crowded, whereas Treasure Island is close to a tabula rasa.

Maybe that will tip the game in our favor. In the meantime, what’s the opinion on the space-age look of our potential museum of the future?