I spent the morning lost in thought yesterday, mulling and milling at Pacific Science Center's new exhibit, Lucy's Legacy; a fascinating tour through Ethiopian history, culminating at box full of the bones that changed our understanding of man's evolution. Oh, yeah, this pile of 3- million-year-old bones was impressive to behold - what I came for, after all - but it was the journey through centuries of African culture and history that captured my imagination.
Do go, and take the kids. For every case containing baskets and 5-paragraph narratives there is an interactive, kid-friendly discovery ("find the fossil," bone matching, things to smell, cranks to turn, etc.). And what little kid doesn't love ancient money? And skulls, tons of 'em?
My jaw dropped when I got to the section on the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. The roofs of these miraculous structures are flush with the ground; they are carved over many, many years out of a single rock. Truly, you have to see them to believe them.
Also fascinating: Tracing the history of religion in Ethiopia. Here's a room full of intricate crosses that date back to the 14th century (have your child try to find the hidden kitty!). A side note on the Ark of the Covenant was surrounded by interested visitors. Judaism has deep roots here, too, along with Islam. Like any great exhibit, the whole thing triggered a yearning to visit this part of Africa and see, feel and hear this history first-hand; a yearning to go deeper, learn more. Hello, History Channel!
This was a press opening, held during school hours, so I couldn't watch kids' responses, but I know my grade-schoolers will be swept away by this atmospheric and spooky-cool exhibit. I'll be back, with kids in tow.