TIME movies

Star Wars Creator George Lucas Has Chosen Chicago for His Museum

Lucas Museum-Chicago
This 2013 file photo shows an aerial view at night of the downtown Chicago skyline. Star Wars creator George Lucas has selected Chicago to build his museum of art and movie memorabilia Kiichiro Sato—AP

Both San Francisco and Los Angeles campaigned to host the movie-memorabilia and art museum, but "aggressive" lobbying by Chicago won Lucas over

After sort of retiring from Hollywood in 2012, director George Lucas has announced that he will open a museum in Chicago showcasing both his 40-year career as a filmmaker and the extensive art collection he amassed along the way.

Some have criticized the museum as a monument to hubris, but perhaps he’s earned it. Few dispute that Lucas has established himself as one of the successful and influential figures in the history of American cinema: this is the man, after all, who gave us Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is slated to open in 2018 next to Soldier Field. Lucas will put down at least $700 million to finance its construction. In addition to paraphernalia from the sets of Lucas’ films, the museum will house his immense collection of American art by painters Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and others.

He said in a statement that choosing the planned museum’s location proved a “difficult decision,” and only came after fierce bidding between Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The latter was his first choice — he grew up across the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge in the sleepy town of Modesto — but he turned his attention elsewhere when he couldn’t nab a desired location on the city’s waterfront.

A social media campaign led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to bring the museum to the crucible of American cinema apparently failed to compete with Chicago’s lobbying effort, which the Chicago Tribune described as “aggressive.” (Personal factors may have directed Lucas’ choice as well — Mellody Hobson, whom he married last summer, grew up in the city.)

“This is a milestone for the city, but it is just one milestone on a journey as we build this new museum,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said when announcing the decision.

Chicago welcomed a record 46.37 million tourists in 2012.

TIME History

Head On Over to Germany to Check Out a Live Replica of Vincent van Gogh’s Severed Ear

Germany Van Gogh's Ear
Undated picture shows an ear made of human cells grown from samples provided from a distant relative from Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, in the center for art and media in Karlsruhe, Germany, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Diemut Strebe / AP

Thanks to DNA provided by one of the artist's distant relatives

You’ve probably heard the legend of how Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh cut off his own ear. Or how perhaps someone else cut off his ear. Either way, somebody cut off van Gogh’s ear, and that has fascinated everybody ever since.

If you’re especially fascinated by van Gogh’s ear, then you should find some time in your schedule to head over to the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, to see a copy of it grown from DNA samples provided by one of van Gogh’s living relatives.

Artist Diemut Strebe crafted the replica with living cells from Lieuwe van Gogh, the great-great-grandson of Vincent’s brother Theo, the Associated Press reports. She used a 3D-printer to shape the cells into an ear-like shape, and then, because of this process, basically deemed herself an artist just like van Gogh.

“I use science basically like a type of brush, like Vincent used paint,” Strebe told the AP. Okay, sure.

The ear is now being kept alive with nourishing fluid and could, in theory, remain preserved for years, so that gives you plenty of time to go check it out. This current exhibition only lasts until July 6, and then the artist is considering putting it on display in New York.

Oh, and if this was not creepy enough for you already, you can “talk” to the ear.

 

TIME museums

The 5 Best Museum Heists in History

Travel Destination: Paris
Visitors take pictures of Leonardo da Vinci 'Mona Lisa' inside the Louvre museum on Feb. 28, 2014 in Paris. Christian Marquardt—Getty Images

Talk about a sinking feeling in your stomach

In honor of International Museum Day, we collected the five best museum heists in history. Just thank your lucky stars you weren’t a museum director during any of these thefts.

1) The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The United States: On March 18, 1990, two thieves disguised as Boston Police officers demanded entrance to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They told the guard on patrol that they were responding to a disturbance, then drew him away from the alarm button and asked him to call his partner. The thieves then handcuffed both of them and threw them in the basement, where they duct-taped their hands and feet to pipes.

The bandits then stole around $500 million worth of priceless art, the largest art heist in history. Priceless works like Vermeer’s The Concert, Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee, and Manet’s Chez Tortoni were taken, never to be found again. Empty frames currently hang in some rooms of the Gardner museum where the paintings originally hung, and tourists visit to see the scene of the crime.

2) The Stockholm Museum, Sweden: Armed burglars stole $30 million worth of art by Renoir and Rembrandt from the Stockholm Museum on December 22, 2000. They staged two car explosions nearby to distract police, then a gunman with a semiautomatic terrorized the museum while his accomplishes grabbed a Rembrandt self-portrait and two Renoirs. Then the thieves escaped in a small boat.

3) The Kunstahl Museum, The Netherlands: Romanian gang members stole seven paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Gaugin and Monet in under three minutes from the Kunhstahl Museum in Rotterdam on October 16, 2012. The thieves got away with the artworks, worth more than $24 million, even though they tripped the small museum’s alarm system — probably because the small museum had no guards.

Last year, the mother of one of the alleged thieves claimed to have burned the paintings, perhaps to protect her son from prosecution. Olga Dogaru’s son was the alleged ringleader of the heist, and his and his accomplices had already been arrested. Dogaru first buried the paintings in different locations, then burned them so the police could never find them. The two thieves have been sentenced to 6-8 years in prison.

4) National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico: Robbers stole 140 precious objects from Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology on Christmas Eve, 1985, in the largest heist of pre-Colombian objects in history. The bandits picked a sleepy time when they knew the guards would be distracted by holiday cheer, and grabbed several gold, turquoise, and jade objects, as well as an obsidian monkey-shaped-vase worth over $20 million. Most of the stolen objects were very small and easy to transport, making them especially difficult to track down.

5) The Louvre, France: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is now the most famous painting in the Louvre, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, getting stolen might have been the best thing that ever happened to this tiny Renaissance portrait. On August 21, 1911, three Italian handymen hid in a supply closet overnight in order to sneak into the museum and steal the Mona Lisa. One of them, Vincenzo Perugia, was the man who had installed the protective glass over the Mona Lisa in the first place. The theft was all over the French newspapers, since many people feared that German or American businessmen were buying up all the good art from their museums. The painting became so famous that he couldn’t sell it without getting caught. So he hid it in the false bottom of his trunk until over two years later, when he finally tried to sell the painting. Of course, the police showed up, Perugia was arrested, and the painting was returned, more famous than ever.

TIME World

The 10 Weirdest Museums in the World

The 6th World Instant Noodle Summit Held In Osaka
Instant cup noodles are on display at the Instant Ramen Museum on April 8, 2008 in Osaka, Japan. Junko Kimura—Getty Images

In honor of International Museum Day, a look at the wackiest exhibitions across the globe, featuring everything from toilets to instant noodles

If the word “museum” conjures up images of stuffy corridors full of highfalutin culture, you’ll be happy to learn that plenty of the world’s museums are, in fact, wonderfully weird tributes to highly specific topics and bizarre artifacts.

So, to celebrate International Museum Day, we present 10 museums around the world that are anything but mundane.

1. Icelandic Phallological Museum

Reykjavik, Iceland

If the name didn’t tip you off, this museum is dedicated to all things penile. According to its website, it houses more than 215 penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals found in Iceland. Be sure not to miss the special section dedicated to whale penises.

2. The Museum of Bad Art

Brookline and Somerville, Massachusetts, USA

Known as MOBA for short, this museum touts itself as “the world’s only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms.” Why waste your time at art museums showcasing quality art, that will only makes you feel untalented? As you stroll through MOBA, you’ll grow more and more confident about your own artistic abilities. All the pieces “range from the work of talented artists that have gone awry to works of exuberant, although crude, execution by artists barely in control of the brush.”

3. Sulabh International Museum Of Toilets

New Delhi, India

Ever wanted to learn about the entire evolution of toilets throughout human history? Then get yourself to India to visit this museum, which traces the history of the toilet for the past 4,500 years. From simple chamber pots to elaborate decorated Victorian toilet seats, you’ll see it all. There’s even a toilet disguised as a bookcase.

4. Avanos Hair Museum

Avanos, Turkey

Want a creepier option than toilets, penises and bad art? Look no further than this hair museum created by potter Chez Galip, in the rural Turkish town of Avanos. It features a huge collection of hair gathered from more than 16,000 women, and if that doesn’t sound creepy enough for you: it’s situated in a small, dark cave.

5. The Museum of Broken Relationships

Zagreb, Croatia

This museum evolved “from a traveling exhibition revolving around the concept of failed relationships and their ruins,” its website explains. Visitors are encouraged to donate artifacts from their own broken relationships as “a chance to overcome an emotional collapse.” You’ll see obvious artifacts — rings, clothing, Valentine’s Day gifts — but you’ll also spot some stranger remnants like fuzzy pink handcuffs or a wooden watermelon.

6. Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

Osaka, Japan

Millions of college students have Momofuku Ando, creator of Cup Noodles, to thank for the cheap meal that kept them alive for four years. The museum, dedicated to Ando and his culinary creation, even includes an instant ramen workshop where visitors can make their own “fresh” noodles.

7. International Cryptozoology Museum

Portland, Maine, USA

Cryptozoology is literally “the study of hidden animals” and involves the search for animals whose existence has not been verified, like the Yeti or Bigfoot. This museum’s collection includes specimens and artifacts purportedly related to these types of mythical, unverified creatures. It includes everything from hair samples, fecal matter and native art — and it just might turn you into a Bigfoot believer.

8. Meguro Parasitological Museum

Tokyo, Japan

Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about tapeworms, head lice and plenty of other parasites you’ve probably never heard of. The collection boasts 300 specimens, including a 29-foot tapeworm. Not recommended for anyone with a weak stomach.

9. Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments

Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you can forgive them for using Comic Sans on their website, check out this museum for its diverse collection of more than 100 torture devices. Some you’ll look at and say, “Okay, yeah, I see how that would work.” Others will have you scratching your head wondering how the heck they were used and just how brutal the resulting torture was. Fun for the whole family!

10. The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum

La Crosse, Kansas, USA

Yes, there’s really an entire museum dedicated to barbed wire. It features more than 2,400 varieties and explores the role barbed wire played in the settlement of the United States. We’ll go ahead and recommend not touching any of the displays.

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