^
Keep Houston Press Free
4

When It Comes To Fossils, Only Houston Says "I Love Lucy"

When Lucy came to Houston's Museum of Natural Science, she was a smash hit. Over 200,000 people came to see the 3.2 million year-old bones of the humanoid ape that (or is it who?) might have been an ancestor to each and every one of us.

The 2007 exhibit was such a triumph that it was held over for five months and even spawned something of a love-fest between government officials here and in Ethiopia.

So it was not without justification that officials at Lucy's next stop, the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, were wildly optimistic . The museum lavished money on Lucy, hiring a 24-hour security guard and forking over $500,000 to the Ethiopian government and a $200,000 fee to HMNS. All told, including costs for mounting an accompanying exhibit of Ethiopian history and anthropology, the Seattle museum spent $2.25 million.

And, according to the Seattle Times, it has been a disaster. In the annals of disastrous Seattle engagements, only Spinal Tap's gig at Lindberg Air Force Base approaches Lucy's stay.

Citing a Lucy-related shortfall of up to $500,000, the museum laid off eight percent of its workforce and froze the wages of those who remained on the payroll. Matching 401-K contributions have been suspended and unpaid days off have also been instituted. Spending her grandkids' inheritance indeed...

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

The Seattle museum projected 250,000 visitors; only 60,000 have clicked through the turnstiles so far, and Lucy is contracted to hit the road in five weeks.

Pacific Museum president and CEO Bryce Seidl blamed the economy ($20.75 adult tickets are no easy sell in this market) and a stretch of miserable December weather for the fiasco. Valid excuses or not, other museums have taken note: museums in Chicago and Denver have backed away from dates with this antediluvian gold-digger. While Lucy was supposed to have traveled to ten cities over six years, Seidl now thinks she is headed home to Ethiopia some four years ahead of schedule.

-- John Nova Lomax

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.