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How will the Lucas Museum in Los Angeles look like

Nadja Beschetnikova
March 21, 2018

Construction has begun on the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (LMNA) in Los Angeles, California.

The facility is being constructed at Exposition Park in South Los Angeles on a site currently housing a series of asphalt parking lots.

At the same time, fresh renderings of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art have been released, offering a glimpse of the impressive interiors and futuristic shapes of the building.

The project was designed by Beijing studio MAD. MAD won a design competition for the museum in 2014. The author of the project is Ma Yansong, 43, who has made a name for himself in the world of architecture for his stunning, neo-futuristic designs. The breathtaking Harbin Opera House in China is one of the most eye-catching creations by Yansong.

Embedded within Harbin’s wetlands, the building appeared as if sculpted by wind and water. Small wonder, that Yangsong creative approach awaked an echo in the heart of one of the leading visionaries in the world of sci-fi cinema.

Since it was unveiled back in 2014, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art has undergone three redesigns. At the recent renderings, the building of the museum looks like a spaceship that landed in the middle of the urban landscape.  

The museum was originally meant to be constructed in Chicago. Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, the business executive who is a driving force behind the project, had also considered building the museum in his hometown, San Francisco. Finally, the location moved to the West Coast.

The museum will be surrounded by 11 acres (4.5 ha) of newly developed gardens and parkland, designed by LA-based landscape architecture firm Studio-MLA. It will be walking distance to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the California Science Center and the University of Southern California, which is where Lucas studied cinema.

MAD says that the museum, founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas, will look as though it has “landed on the site’s natural environment”, with the interior designed as a “huge, bright and open cave”.

Lucas, his wife, Mellody Hobson, and their foundation are paying for the museum's construction and endowment. The cost of the project, estimated at $1 billion.  

The interior will include 300,000-square-feet of collection galleries and exhibition spaces for displaying Lucas and wife Mellody Hobson's art collection, and memorabilia from his movies.

The museum’s collection of 10,000 paintings, illustrations, film props, and costumes is estimated to be worth $400m and spans three themes: narrative art, the art of cinema, and digital art.
Lucas says exhibits will attempt to explain visual storytelling from the days of cave paintings to modern movies.

Despite the fact that the exposition will include such iconic things as Luke Skywalker’s first lightsaber and Darth Vader’s helmet, Lucas emphasized that it will be in no way a vanity project. Star Wars heritage is just a humble contribution to the study of pop culture and visual arts.

The wide-ranging collection will also include paintings by Norman Rockwell, Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir; comic strips by “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz and underground artist Robert Crumb; animation from films such as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and special effects from films such as “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

Lucas Museum will also offer educational opportunities, including both hands-on and digital classrooms, as well as a free public research library.

The roof of the curvaceous building will be designed as an outdoor observation deck, where visitors will be able to stroll around and get views across LA's Exposition Park. Transparent tube elevator shafts will transport visitors up through the swooping white ceiling in the cavernous lobby area.

The Los Angeles government said the museum was “the largest public gift ever given to a municipality”.

The museum is sure to become the iconic landmark of the tourist routes in Los Angeles. Construction is expected to be completed in 2021.