(University Circle) - The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has opened its new Human Origins Gallery.

The newly renovated gallery on human evolution is based on current scientific knowledge in the field of paleoanthropology.

Museum CEO Dr. Evalyn Gates says the centerpiece of the exhibition are two new reconstructions of "Lucy," the famous 3.2 million-year-old partial fossil skeleton discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 by Dr. Donald Johanson, a former curator at the Museum.

The gallery is now a permanent exhibition at the institution. Dr. Gates tells Newsradio WTAM 1100, 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," says Gates, "and 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.

Lucy greets 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.

Overall, the Human Origins Gallery features more than 40 specimens, including fossil casts. Among the key specimens is a cast of "Kadanuumuu," a specimen of Lucy's species recently discovered by an international team. In addition to specimen displays, visitors can engage in hands-on and media-based interactive exhibits.

This new gallery serves as a small preview of the new exhibits that will be developed as part of the Museum's major transformation project, scheduled to begin construction in 2015.

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(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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