Lucy in The Museum: Famous Fossil To Start Houston Visit In August

It took some Texas tenacity, but the world's most famous fossil, what some say is the best example of mankind's ancient ancestor, will be on her way to Houston before the end of the year. Lucy, A partial hominid fossil discovered in Ethiopia, has never been on public display. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, officials at the Houston Museum of Natural Science are ready for a one-of-a-kind exhibition.

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Since her discovery in 1974, Lucy has been kept in a vault inside the Ethiopian National Museum. Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis was in Houston this week to finalize plans to bring Lucy here starting in August for her first-ever public exhibition. Joel Bartsch is the president of the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

"Lucy is probably the most famous, most well-known fossil in the world and the opportunity to bring it to Houston for public display is a remarkable one but also a land-breaking one because she's never been on public display anywhere, in Ethiopia or anywhere else. So it's a great opportunity for the public to see a legendary fossil."

Lucy consists of bones that make up about 40-percent of a skeleton. Some scientists say the fossil is around 3.2 million years old and the best example of upright walking hominids that preceded humans. Bartsch says having Lucy in Houston will illuminate the rich culture and history of Ethiopia.

"There's a lot going on in Ethiopia and a lot that Ethiopia has to offer that's very fascinating that quite frankly no one on this continent, or very few people on this continent are even aware of. So the educational opportunities and the opportunity to show the people of Houston and beyond all that Ethiopia has to offer is really something that I think they'll take away from the exhibition."

Getting Lucy to Houston hasn't been easy. Museum officials have made seven trips to Ethiopia over the past few years to iron-out details of her trip. State Senator Rodney Ellis went along on one of those trips a few months ago and says Texas didn't give up on Lucy.

"It has taken a lot of dialogue, I mean these negotiations have been going on for almost five years, but we were bold enough to ask and it just shows sometimes when you ask and you're persistent, it will happen. I think it's going to be one of our largest tourist attractions in the history of the museum and the history of the city."

The Lucy exhibition officially opens August 31st at the Museum of Natural Science and is expected to stay in Houston at least until the Spring of 2008. Jeff Moseley is the president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership.

"We're doing with that Smithsonian and L.A. and Chicago and National Geographic didn't do. But we've been able to have world-class exhibits here. Now this is proving that we're in that league. Lucy is absolutely the definition of a historic natural science exhibit."

You can find out more about Lucy through a link on our website, KUHF.org.

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