Museum unveils new human origins gallery

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Get ready to go back in time to meet a brand-new, lifelike "Lucy."

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History recently opened its new Human Origins Gallery. The gallery on human evolution is based on current scientific knowledge in the field of paleoanthropology. The centerpiece of the exhibition is two new reconstructions of "Lucy," the famous 3.2 million-year-old partial fossil skeleton of the species Australopithecus afarensis discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 by Dr. Donald Johanson, a former curator at the Museum.

Developed under the direction of Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, curator of physical anthropology at the Museum, the gallery will be a permanent exhibition at the institution. The museum has a long history as a major contributor in the field of human evolutionary studies. The fieldwork and research of its past and present scientists have unearthed groundbreaking discoveries that shed light into our ancient past.

"We are thrilled to unveil this dynamic and engaging exhibition that highlights major discoveries and ongoing research into human origins," said Dr. Evalyn Gates, executive director and CEO of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. "The gallery showcases the latest science and offers visitors an opportunity to view historically significant fossils and learn about recent discoveries made by the Museum's renowned scientists. Now, the visiting public will be able to see a tangible display underscoring the museum's role as one of the world's key centers for human evolutionary research."

The new Human Origins Gallery explores the evolution of various early human ancestor species and outlines the physical changes through time leading to modern humans. The exhibition is organized into seven thematic stages based on milestones. It also features a special section that celebrates current research of the Museum's curators.

"This new gallery will be one of the most up-to-date human evolution galleries in the world," said Haile-Selassie. "It includes casts of early human ancestor fossils that are currently under active research. Starting with our place in nature as primates, the gallery traces the entire journey we have traveled for almost 6 million years to become who we are today--a large-brained animal living in a digital age."

Lucy will greet visitors, serving as the focal point of the gallery with two brand-new versions of her reconstruction -- lifelike and skeletal -- on display. Posed in a striding position, they will be arranged back to back. Museum artisans sculpted skeletal elements, cast 102 pieces in resin and painstakingly assembled the mount of the famous partial skeleton.

The Human Origins Gallery is free with museum admission. Admission fees are $12 for adults 19 and older; and $10 for youth ages 3-18, college students (with ID) and seniors (60 and older). Children 2 and younger are free. Shafran Planetarium shows are $4 with general admission.

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