By Tadias Staff
Published: Wednesday, June 24, 2009
New York (Tadias) – In continuation of the six-year tour of the United States, Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia opened today at the Discovery Times Square Exposition in New York.
Organizers held a press preview in mid-town Manhattan this morning and unveiled a multi-media exhibition of Lucy’s fossils – one of the earliest human ancestors discovered in Ethiopia. Additional items including ancient Ethiopian Orthodox bibles, biblical manuscripts, copies of the Holy Koran from the Harar region, and other historical materials conveying Ethiopia’s ancient Abrahamic heritage and diverse cultures were shown.
A replica of the Axum obelisk and the Lalibela church, designed by American artists for the exhibition, were also on display.
Donald Johanson, who made the landmark discovery of Lucy in 1974, told Tadias Magazine that the famous bones are a very important reminder of our origins in Ethiopia. “She reminds us that all of us began in Africa,” the Arizona State University Professor said during an interview at the museum. “Ethiopians should be very proud of that fact, that our ancient ancestor has been found in Ethiopia, and it is a rare opportunity for the country to share these antiquities with the rest of the world.”
There have been many versions of how Lucy got her name. Johanson shared its origins with us. “I was there with my girlfriend Pamela, and the Beatles song ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ was playing on a small radio…that’s how she was named.” According to Johanson, an official at the Ministry of Culture, Bekele Negussie, gave Lucy her Ethiopian name Dinkenesh, which in amharic means ‘you are wonderful.’
“I hope this exhibition will encourage people to travel to Ethiopia and experience this great nation,” Johanson said.
However, several scientists have shared their concern and disapproval of the exhibition citing that Lucy’s remains are too fragile for touring and travel. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. has refused to display Lucy amidst such concerns.
Mamitu Yilma, Manger of the National Museum of Ethiopia, who attended the NYC opening, says she understands the controversy. “Although the concerns are legitimate, we have done a lot of work and professional due diligence before Lucy was allowed to leave Ethiopia,” she says. ” At the end, it is about sharing Ethiopia’s rich history, diverse culture, and our tremendous contribution to world civilization.” And “What better place to do it than in New York City, the capital of multiculturalism.”
Dirk Van Tuerenhout, Curator of the show, hopes that the exhibition will serve as an ‘Ethiopia 101′ course for the American public. “My greatest joy is when people say: “Wow, I had no idea that the Queen of Sheba was Ethiopian or that Rastafarianism is related to the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. I hope the show inspires young children to become anthropologists or archaeologists or researchers”.
The show will remain open in New York until October 24th, 2009
Here are more photos: