The first person I heard utter "the force is with us" in the wake of the announcement that Los Angeles was chosen to be the site of filmmaker George Lucas' Museum of Narrative Arts was Curren Price, the City Council member whose district includes Exposition Park, where the museum will be located. (Well — the first public official. My colleague Mike McGough said as much in an email minutes after we heard the news.)
But he wasn't the last to say it at the news conference at Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's office Tuesday afternoon, where a gaggle of officials crowded together to exult in L.A. being picked over its rival — Treasure Island off San Francisco — as the site of the museum, which will focus on the art of storytelling and house Lucas' extensive collection of works by Norman Rockwell, R. Crumb and other artists and, yes, "Star Wars" artifacts. The cost of building, operating and endowing the musem combined with the value of the collection will top $1 billion. Those costs will be borne completely by Lucas and his wife, businesswoman Mellody Hobson
We, too, are pleased that they chose Los Angeles and had urged them to do so. Garcetti was right — everyone in the public sphere came together on this. Garcetti and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who both received phone calls from Hobson on Tuesday, said she was impressed with how well city departments worked together to facilitate a project like this. As Ridley-Thomas said, she made it clear that it was a competitive process, "but the attributes of Los Angeles outweighed those of San Francisco."
Who would have thought 10 years ago that Los Angeles would beat out San Francisco, one of the greenest, most transit-friendly cities in the country, for an elaborate civic project? But, in fact, in a city notorious for being fragmented and traversable only by car, Exposition Park has become a hub of cultural institutions, housing the California Science Center, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and the California African American Museum — all near the Expo light rail line and buses. But don't worry — there will still be plenty of parking.