Quick! I need an excuse to visit Seattle in a few months!

Guess who’s next in line to get a certain famous fossil? The Pacific Science Center will be exhibiting Lucy between October and March. Even if I can’t arrange it, I expect you lucky Pacific Northwest residents to all make the pilgrimage.


  1. says

    Wasn’t there a push about a year ago in Kenya by the bishop there to have the fossils permanently removed from public display (because they conflicted with “truth”)? I guess the only way to keep the fossils safe is to get them out of the country.

  2. Jason says

    We took our daughter on a trip to Houston last fall just to see Lucy at the The Houston Museum of Natural Science and all of us were very excited to see her. The Ethiopian religious displays just prior to seeing Lucy and the other part of the exhibit was a bit of a let down.

  3. Brian F says

    I would say that is reason enough to visit Seattle. Well, that plus Rem Koolhaas’s public library (esp. check out the 4th level – as long as you’re not claustrophobic).

  4. Mena says

    How about the excuse of going to see Lucy at the Pacific Science Center? Surely geeky types don’t need any more of an excuse than that.

  5. Randallphobia says

    I saw it in Houston, twice. Once was as part of my social studies teaching continuing education. The 1st time that I saw it, my wife & I had to put up with a redneck who was heckling, but then another person (wearing a massive cross!) told her to shut-up so that she could learn something.

    If they include the wonderful wrap-around mural that surrounded Lucy that covers our evolution from around the time of our split from the rest of the primate family, I’ll be impressed.

    The 1st half of the exhibit focuses on Ethiopia. This did not bother me because the country obviously only let Lucy go on tour because it needed money & possible tourist dollars.

    I strongly recommend this exhibit even if your museum cannot live up to the typically awesome standards of the Houston Museum of Natural History. (Yes, I like my hometown even if it is a Christian/Republican hotbed.)

  6. Jim Thomerson says

    I hope you will have a better experience than we had at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The Lucy exhibit was a big deal, and we paid extra to see it. However there were no signs or anything in the museum until you came to the door of the exhibit at the back of the Etheopian exhibit. There was a ticket taker at the entrance to the Etheopian exhibit, which was a clue. We had asked various museum employees for directions. They either did not know where the exhibit was, or we did not understand what they told us. By the time we found the exhibit, I was so angry that I did not enjoy it or get much out of it. I complained to the Museum’s public relations person and walked him through the situation. I hope a few directional signs were posted, and others had a better experience. I have absolutly zero tolerence for such incompetence in a museum.

  7. Apikoros says

    Dang my luck!

    I’m going to be back in Seattle in September, and leave just a week or two before the exhibit opens. Maybe I can try to get bumped from my flight home again and again and again…oh, well, maybe I’ll run into her in an airport lounge.

    Speaking of which, PZ, you know all that good beer in Seattle isn’t going to drink itself!

  8. Erik says

    Saw the exhibit on its opening night in Houston. Went in to see Lucy 3 times, and once was in the exhibit completely alone. It is a fantastic privilege to get to be so close to arguably one of the most important finds ever. The Ethiopian stuff at the beginning is more of a travel brochure / advertisement than a celebration of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christian history. It is easy to ignore and not bothersome, and the charge you get from seeing Lucy is more than worth it.

  9. says

    Although I live in Seattle, I will most explicitly not be going to see Lucy. Lucy’s value as a research subject are far too high to have her bones shipped around the country as something to gawk at. I won’t be giving my money to the institutions that risk valuable and irreplaceable field material this way.

  10. J-Dog says

    I would like to have someone assigned to the door, to be alert and ready to kick out any DI hacks that happen to show up…

  11. Mycroft says

    I also went to see auntie L. in Houston. I happened to really enjoy the Ethiopian exhibit prior to Lucy. The art was fantastic. Doesn’t matter what the subject matter was… it was fantastic.

    In my humble opinion, anyone that ‘chooses’ to miss this opportunity to see our dear ol’ auntie has missed a chance that may not return.

    I only wish I could have taken my little one with me to see. It was a side stop I arranged during a business trip. He did get an “I ” t-shirt though.

    Take children. Encourage big questions from them.

  12. Zambiglione says

    I also saw it in Houston and thought the exhibit was totally awesome. We ran into a docent who very clearly explained that Ethiopia only agreed to allow Lucy to go on tour if they were allowed to put up all the tourist propaganda in the first part. I also was lucky enough to go with an anthropology student who was able to ask the anthropologist in charge of hovering over Lucy and answering questions all sorts of great nerdy questions that led to a fantastic discussion. So you might as well make a pilgrimage now to Houston (although the Pacific Science Center is really cool on it’s own and the HMHS is only great when it has a good exhibit).

  13. Coragyps says

    Like Zam and Mycroft said: the show in Houston was nice. I had never known before just how astounding old Ethiopian architecture was, and the religious artwork was impressive art anyway.

    And I did get the t-shirt, and Lucy was really, really awe-inspiring.

  14. Kenny P says

    PZ, I got an email from NWA that says it is giving double-frequent flyer miles for all trips to Seattle through the end of the year. So, book that trip! You know you want to go!

  15. Not that Louis says

    Seattle gets Lucy. Science Museum of Minnesota gets leftover Star Wars movie props. Um.

  16. says

    I was at the Science Center last weekend, and saw the Lucy exhibit advedrtised. I think I’ll be going back in the fall.

  17. says

    Hey i live in the pacific northwest. This sounds like something worth going to.

    And as for your excuse, you can just say you’re going to see Genewitch, and they’ll give you leave of absence for being a nutball.

  18. Crystal says

    Hey PZ! Great to meet you during your last visit to Pacific Science Center for the talk you gave for the Northwest Science Writers’ event. We’re thrilled to bring the Lucy’s Legacy exhibit to Seattle and just as thrilled to see you mentioning it. Take care and hope to see you here!

  19. Hal in Howell MI (not far from Hell, MI) says

    “Does she have some ‘splaning’ to do?” – terrylong #1


  20. says

    My family and I went to Lucy down in Houston (I blogged about it, and the full review is here). The short review is that it’s awesome.

    As others have said, most of the exhibit is actually devoted to Ethiopian religious art and history. It was interesting in its own right, if a little unrelated (by a few million years) to Lucy. Actually, my wife enjoyed that part more than Lucy (she’s not the science nerd I am).

    After that, there’s a small section on human evolution. It’s okay – just enough to give a background on Lucy and why she’s important, but not really much of a history lesson. And as far as I could tell, all the fossils in that part of the exhibit were actually casts – still cool, but not awe-inspiring like the real fossils.

    Finally, there’s the room with Lucy herself. There’s a fantastic mural all around the room, showing snapshots from human evolution. It’s has a bit of an “Ascent of Man” feel to it, but it’s still very good. In fact, that painting was my wife and daughter’s favorite part.

    Lucy was in a glass case, with a cast replica to one side showing how the bones would have been in life, and a life like reconstruction on the other side. I was lucky enough to be there when it wasn’t very crowded, so I got to stare at Lucy’s fossils for a good half an hour. It was incredible.

    Anyway, it was great to see Lucy’s fossils in person. The rest of the exhibit was also interesting – just be prepared that most of it is unrelated to Lucy.

  21. says

    damn… I’ll be in Seattle for work (from Eugene, OR) later this month, but not likely again soon. Hmm… well, there may be a good reason to go up to the Earshot Jazz fest, and then I’ll hafta take a gander at Lucy.


  22. says

    I also got to see Lucy at Houston, and while still very cool, was a little underwhelmed at the overall exhibit. While I did like the standup cast, and the life-size model, I wish they had something for kids to touch. I think a cast of the bones for the kids to touch would bring so much more of it home. Museums are so much about “look-don’t touch” that I think it hurts their mission. Having a plastic Lucy cast to hold up to kids (and yourself) would put it all in a different perspective. I did go through the whole spiel on evolution with my 5 year old, and he did grasp most of it. The biggest bummer was his ADHD did not allow us to stay very long.

  23. Phyllis says

    We haven’t yet been to see Lucy in Houston. But it’s been extended to September so we’ll get there before the summer ends. Has to be a tag team effort with hubby otherwise, like Richard, I’m afraid my 4 y/o daughter’s ADHD won’t allow an extensive viewing.

    PZ – there ARE a few of us atheists here in Houston if you want to see Lucy here. There are different groups – one of them meets twice a month for dinner.

  24. Randallphobia says

    My wife & I got matching “I Lucy” t-shirts. When I went with her, there was a volunteer who was working on his anthropology PhD answering questions. A very alert police officer politely asked me to remove my hand from Lucy’s case when I absentmindedly put my hand on it while bouncing around like a 3-year old at Disney Land.

    The exhibit was not hard to find. We were just told to go up the stairs to the 2nd floor. There were many signs on the floor & other places.