The Sciences

No Love for Lucy: Hominid Fossil Put on a Good Show, But No One Came

DiscoblogBy Boonsri DickinsonJan 28, 2009 9:45 PM

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Lucy flew all the way from Ethiopia for nothing. Seattle officials paid $2.25 million for the fossilized remains of the 3.2 million-year-old hominid known as Lucy to be on display at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. The problem is that no one wanted to visit the world’s oldest and best preserved human fossil, even though this is the first time she has ever traveled outside of Africa. So far, Lucy’s been in Seattle for 5 months, and only 60,000 people have visited the exhibit (officials had expected more like 250,000). As a result, the science center has lost half a million dollars, resulting in layoffs of 8 percent of its staff and a wage freeze. Lucy was supposed to go on a six-year, 10-city tour. The event started out strong: Visitors in Houston loved Lucy so much that officials extended her stay for a few months. By the exhibit's end, Houston’s museum had clocked in more than 170,000 visitors. But a poor turnout in Seattle is making museums cancel their plans. The Field Museum in Chicago has pulled out, and the Denver museum of Nature and Science was apparently worried that transporting Lucy might damage her fragile remains. Now, no museum wants to commit to being the next city to host Lucy. You can point fingers at the financial crisis or bad winter weather, but unless people in Seattle go to visit her sometime before March 8th, then she'll probably just head back home in defeat. Related Content: DISCOVER: How Loyal Was Lucy? DISCOVER: Thrill-Seeker's Travel Guide

Image: flickr/ MashGet

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