A Houston delegation will be in Ethiopia next week finalizing details for the Houston arrival of the Lucy archeological exhibit. Lucy is thought to be one of mankind’s earliest ancestors, dating back 3.2 million years, and her visit to Houston will mark the first time ever leaving the continent of Africa, for exhibition purposes. The delegation will be in Ethiopia February 3-12, 2007.

“This is a prestigious accomplishment for the Houston arts community, and it’s a testament to the international nature and world-class leadership of this region,” said Jeff Moseley, president and CEO, Greater Houston Partnership. “The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) went up against some of the biggest names in the museum world, including the Smithsonian, and came out on top.”

“Lucy is one of those celebrities that can go by just her first name,” said Geoffrey S. Connor, former Texas secretary of state and leader of the 2004 mission to Ethiopia. “For her to make her public debut in Houston is a big cultural coup for the city and the state. Texas is a big deal and Houston is a big deal. Bringing Lucy solidifies Houston’s presence on the international map.”

While in Ethiopia members of the delegation will also explore business development opportunities and ways to promote trade relations and tourism between Houston and Ethiopia.

Trade between Ethiopia and Houston totaled more than $101.9 million in 2005. This represents a 34.9 percent increase from $75.5 million in 2004. The Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area has 3,442 residents who were born in Ethiopia. In addition, 3,699 residents claim Ethiopian heritage.

Houston and Eastern Africa share important business and cultural connections. 447 Houston-area companies trade goods and services with Eastern Africa, 52 of which are trading specifically with Ethiopia.

In addition to Moseley, Houston delegation members include: Joel Bartsch, president, HMNS; Shelly Dee, trustee, HMNS; The Honorable Ada Edwards, Houston city council member; The Honorable Rodney Ellis, Texas state senator; T.H. Gezahgen Kebede, honorary consul of Ethiopia and president, Ethio-American Trade & Investment Council; The Honorable Tibor Nagy, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia; Carroll Ray, trustee, HMNS; Lisa Renori, director of collections, HMNS; Gerald Smith, president & CEO, Smith Graham Co. and Partnership board member; Marcus Smith, director, Marcus B. Smith Galleries; and Dr. Dirk Van Tuerenhout, curator of anthropology, HMNS.