Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How the Debate Around the Lucas Museum Mirrors the Building of the Field Museum

This whole Lucas Museum debate has been hard to follow and a roller coaster of emotions.  One day we (and many) feel like we're losing out if Lucas takes his museum somewhere else.  On the next day, we feel like the friends of the park group is looking out for the long term vision of our fine city.  Oh the internal struggle.

The Field Museum Debate:
Marshall Field vs. Montgomery Ward
(image via Chicago Tribune)
Anyway, the Tribune has an interesting historical article on how the Field Museum ended up on our lakeshore and some of the similarities this current struggle has vs. the old one:
Devoted Chicago history buffs must be experiencing repeated episodes of deja vu during the struggle over the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. It eerily mimics the struggle, more than a century ago, over the site of the Field Museum.  
Both fights involve bitter differences of opinion over the city's lakefront: Should it be left pristine or dotted with cultural amenities? Both involve head-butting by the rich and powerful. The current one pits a Hollywood mogul, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, and the city's hard-driving mayor against a group of do-gooders, the Friends of the Parks.  
In the earlier donnybrook, two local moguls squared off: Marshall Field, who made State Street the city's shopping rialto, on the side of a proposed museum, against Montgomery Ward, who made Chicago the hub of the mail-order industry and was a staunch protector of the city's lakefront as a public space.

It's a fun read for those of us who like Chicago history and fun Chicago facts.  For instance, Marshall Field originally didn't want the museum to be named after himself.  Another one is that the museum was originally slated for the lakeshore and Congress Pkwy.

If you have a moment, we highly recommend reading the piece.

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