Straight out of Star Wars: The Architecture of LA’s New Lucas Museum

Sci-fi is becoming reality all around us. Video calling, once something straight out of The Jetsons, is now commonplace. Our cars are learning to drive themselves. And the breathtakingly sleek, starship-esque architecture of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, coming soon to Exposition Park in Los Angeles, would look right at home in its namesake’s signature film franchise. 

The museum, funded by Star Wars creator George Lucas, is a massive addition to LA’s landscape. It will include roughly 11 acres of green space and 290,000 square feet of interior. A third of that square footage will be dedicated to gallery space.

The museum will celebrate all forms of narrative art, from amphoras to comic books. Excitement builds for the collection planned for the museum, almost entirely gathered by George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson. The building itself is generating some buzz, too, thanks to its innovative architecture.

As you approach: an outside look at the Lucas Museum.

In 2014, the Lucas Museum announced its plan to hold an international, invitation-only contest for the architecture design contract. MAD Architects won and put Ma Yansong, a young and innovative architect, on the job.

Yansong’s design looks like something straight from Lucas’s famous film franchise. The long, graceful curves of the building seem to softly touch down with the earth, giving the illusion of a spaceship alit on terra firma, awaiting it’s next takeoff.

The building blends beautifully with the surrounding green space. Trees and other greenery coat the museum’s sloping roof, and visitors will be able to walk the perimeter of this elevated park.

Step into the cave: exploring the museum.

The Lucas Museum carries its lofted, airy feel into its interior. When heading through the primary entrance, visitors are welcomed into what MAD calls, “a huge bright and open cave.” Natural light will fill this large public area. Glass-encased elevators and sloping archways give visitors access to other areas within the building.

Beyond expansive gallery space, the museum will include movie theaters, restaurants (both fine dining and casual options), a 4,200 square foot library, lecture halls, and event spaces.

The collection at the museum will including paintings from Rockwell, Degas, and Renoir; movie props, costumes, and sets; and digital art. The majority of the art showcased at the museum’s opening comes from Lucas’s personal collection. He says, “I think it’s important to have a museum that, I used to jokingly say, supports all the orphan arts that nobody wants to see but everybody loves. So that’s my dream for this.”

Breaking ground on a groundbreaking building.

The Lucas Museum was originally planned for Chicago. When those plans fell through, the project’s team looked at locations in San Francisco, before ultimately settling on Los Angeles. The long process began bearing fruit in March, when George Lucas, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Steven Spielberg, and others gathered to break ground.

The ground break is particularly notable because the city’s approval and permitting process was extensive. Experts involved report that this building wouldn’t have been possible just a decade ago. The construction of the Star Wars-like addition to Exposition Park leverages the newest, most innovative construction technology.

Once complete, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will add to LA’s arts and culture offering in two significant ways. The first is the obvious contribution of a gathering of art available to the public. The second is the addition of another notable Los Angeles building. The large-scale, spaceship-inspired museum will be worth the visit for the architecture alone.

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