The studio model for the USS Enterprise from the original Star Trek series is on the move. Earlier this week the ship was removed from its latest display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, in preparation for move to a new location within the museum. The model will also be undergoing evaluation and conservation treatment. More details and photos below.
Original USS Enterprise Model Begins Move To New Home At Smithsonian
The studio model for the USS Enterprise from the original Star Trek has been on public display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC since the museum opened in 1976. The ship has moved around a bit over that time, but since 1999 it has been on display in the gift shop inside a special case (see below). In April of this year the Smithsonian announced the ship would be moving again, this time to the central "Milestones of Flight" hall which is being renovated.
On Friday in a blog post the Smithsonian revealed the Enterprise display was taken down on September 11. Renovations to the new Milestones of Flight Hall will be completed in time for the Museum’s 40th anniversary in 2016. According to the Smithsonian, the11-foot long Enterprise model is in need of "some conservation" before it can return for public viewing.
The model is now being transported to the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory in Virginia where it will be "evaluated and treated." According to the Smithsonian the model "has not had any significant treatment other than a basic dusting since 2000."
The Smithsonian announcement explains their approach to conservation:
The Museum’s general approach emphasizes conservation over preservation and preservation over restoration. Restoration is bringing an object back to its appearance and condition at a determined point in time in the past. With a restoration approach, there is less concern for preserving original materials and more focus on returning to the original specification, often through the addition of non-original materials. Preservation is an overall philosophy that favors keeping original material over creating an ideal physical appearance, while keeping the artifact from deteriorating any more. Conservation follows the preservation philosophy and is minimally invasive, utilizing scientific investigation and techniques to maintain original materials, preserving the object’s physical history of ownership and use.
The almost 50-year-old piece of Star Trek history was previously treated by the museum back when it was donated in 1974 and again in 1984 and 1991. The model was first on display at the "Life in the Universe" display but had been moved at least twice before ending up in the gift shop in 1999. One of the reasons for the move was concern over how the ship was being displayed by hanging it and how that could possibly damage the structure of the model. So they built a special case with custom stanchions to support it, and it remained there in the gift shop until this week.
Once the work is completed, the model will be part of the display in the Milestones of Flight Hall which is the central exhibition space that greets visitors entering the Museum. This hall includes some major pieces of history including the Spirit of St. Louis and the Bell X-1. The hall has remained mostly unchanged since the museum opened, but thanks to a $30 million donation from Boeing, it will be going through a number of renovations, including adding an Apollo Lunar Module (and the starship Enterprise). There will also be a new floor plan, new digital "mobile experience" and more.
Promo video for the new Milestone’s of Flight Hall – future home of the original USS Enterprise model
You can follow the Museum on social media to keep track of progress for the Enterprise model and other artifacts.