Just as fans received their first glimpse of the Star Wars saga at San Diego Comic-Con in 1976, a packed audience in room 5AB at the San Diego Convention Center were introduced to another first look on Thursday. The George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art showed off a few of the unique pieces and works of art in George Lucas’ most impressive collection, and took attendees behind the scenes of its stunning collection.
Currently under construction in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park, the museum’s primary focus will be on narrative art — artwork that tells stories. “At the Lucas Museum, what matters is the kind of story that an artwork can tell, and the effect that story has on people. We aim to help audiences understand that everyone has their own story to tell and that art is an important tool that everyone can use to tell their diverse stories,” museum curator Erin M. Curtis explained at the beginning of the panel.
The panel offered just a small taste of offerings from the vast archives at the Lucas Museum’s disposal. In total, the collection draws from six key groups: American art, children’s book illustration, cinema, comic art, photography, and world art before 1950. From early Egyptian hieroglyphics carved in stone to original Star Wars matte paintings, the Lucas Museum celebrates narrative art in its many, varied forms. For Lucasfilm fans, there’s plenty of pieces from the company’s production archive that visitors can look forward to seeing in person. Here are five Lucasfilm-centric things we learned.
1. Get an up close, detailed look at the Death Star. For the first time, Star Wars fans will be able to see the screen-used model from 1983’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in person. “This model of the Death Star is really one of the most spectacular items in the archive and it really has to be seen in person. The model is a 3D object, approximately 6-feet-tall, created out of thin layers of brass that have been eroded with acid. It’s incredibly intricate and has never been shown before publicly,” curator Ryan Linkof told the crowd.
2. Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept art will be on display. The museum will be home to the legendary Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept art paintings from the classic trilogy. Curator Ryan Linkof showed off two well known pieces recognizable to fans: early 1975 production art depicting Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader, and a 1980 illustration depicting Luke and Yoda on Dagobah from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
3. See the beginnings of the saga. Original storyboards from Star Wars: A New Hope to Return of the Jedi will be on display as part of the museum’s cinema collection. At the panel, curators showed an early sketch drawn by artist Alex Tavoularis with the words “The Star Wars” visualized in the style of the new iconic opening crawl of the saga, created before the title was even fully determined.
4. Indiana Jones and Willow will be part of the museum’s collection. While much of the museum’s cinema collection draws from Star Wars, it will also have many items from the Indiana Jones franchise and Willow, as well. The panel showed off a photo of The Ark of the Covenant prop kept in the Lucasfilm production archive, revealing there are actually two versions of the iconic movie artifact, one more illustrious than the other, because they were used for different cinematic effect. Additionally, early Indiana Jones concept art by famed comic artist Jim Steranko was shown as another highlight that fans can look forward to seeing in person.
5. Lightsabers galore. Of course, there will be no shortage of lightsabers on display at the Lucas Museum. Curator Ryan Linkof told the panel audience, “a vast assortment of lightsabers from Episodes I-VI” will be part of the collection. The panelists showed off an image of Luke’s original lightsaber prop from A New Hope, in addition to an image highlighting nearly 40 different lightsabers kept in the museum’s archives. From Mace Windu to Darth Vader, there will be plenty of iconic Jedi weapons on view from throughout the saga’s history for fans.
Michelle Buchman is a writer and social media manager for Star Wars. She loves all things bounty hunters and smugglers.
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