Millions of people every year will now be able to see the original model of the USS Enterprise at the Smithsonian – unfortunately for them, just like as Picard tells Data in First Contact, they won’t be able to touch it.
The 50-year-old original model of the Enterprise went on display today in the main lobby of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Previously, it had been at its sister museum in Chantilly, Virginia (displayed prominently in the gift shop) and then dry-docked for a couple years while it was restored to its former glory.
While the ship (excuse me, the model) has been redone to appear just as good – if not better – than it did in 1966, the restoration process left the visible electrical wires on its port side visible. The wires ran the lights on the ship, but were never filmed.
The Smithsonian has always endeavored to tell not just the story of advancing science and technology, but also of the people who were involved and the broader cultural impact, Dr. Margaret Weitekamp, curator for the Air and Space Museum, told TrekMovie.
“When you start to talk about pop culture and memorabilia, we can talk about Star Trek now, she said. Aerospace conglomerate Boeing provided much of the funding for the Enterprise restoration, part of a larger effort for the museum, so the Smithsonian has named the main lobby the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.
The same exhibit space currently features a profile of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, as well as the Star Trek Voyager communicator pin she received when she attended the show’s premiere in 1995.
An official public ceremony to celebrate the new addition will be held on Friday (which is also the 40th anniversary of the museum itself). The event will include several Star Trek glitterati, notably Michael and Denise Okuda, and a midnight screening of the film Galaxy Quest.