Restored Original Enterprise Model Docks in Washington, DC

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.

20160628 Sally Ride voyager pic

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.




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Oh good. I was just at the Air and Space Museum a couple of months ago, and I was dissapointed that the Enterprise wasn’t there. I’ll have to go check it out soon.

I’ve seen several news articles dealing with the reworking of the studio model. ‘Fascinating’ does the team a injustice for the amount of love & labor they did to complete this event. Though I doubt I’ll ever go see her again, its still two servings of awesome sauce just to know they finally finished. Maybe my kids will (for their school trips to DC)…

Minor correction: the model had been displayed in the gift shop of the main Air and Space Museum on the National Mall prior to its restoration.

Really? Because about ten years ago I was at the Smithsonian and wanted to see it – and had understood it was out in Virginia (and I didn’t have time to get there). I did get to see Julia Child’s kitchen and Fonzie’s jacket, so there was that.

Yes, I saw it there in 2011. It was downstairs in the gift shop.

I was there at the Air & Space museum in 1978 when they had the Big E hanging from the ceiling. She was the main reason I wanted to go there. Good to see that she is being treated well.

That’s where I saw and photographed it in 1979

This original model is VASTLY superior to JJ’s Enterprise in both style and beauty.

TMP Enterprise is the only one that came close!

I agree. The clean simple lines make it hard to date. Also, hard to improve on.

JJ’s Enterprise looks like a 50’s Buick, overly designed and way too much bling.

Yes, we know Harry, you think J.J. is the devil…. come up with something new.

I don’t comment much anymore, so get off my back.

Let’s keep it real, as much as we all love the original model it would look ridiculous in a modern film or TV show. There are aspects of the JJ’s Enterprise that I don’t like but it looks much more space worthy, interesting, believable and cinematic then 1960’s model as much as I may love it.

Respectfully, and completely disagree. JJ made sure that the Millennium Falcon was exactly the same. Here’s a quote from Wired magazine:

“Fortunately, as well as having on-set expertise from veteran crewman Mark Harris, who actually built the Falcon for Empire, Gilford’s team has access to all the original photographs and blueprints. “So we got to build the perfect Falcon,” says Gilford. “Making sure all the dressing, the ageing, every detail was as close as possible to the original.”

I refuse to accept the idea that the Enterprise had to be changed. I remember reading that exact rationale about the TMP Enterprise back in 1979, as the reason for her being changed. The difference being that the TMP Enterprise turned out perfect. JJ’s changes were unnecessary.

I think the original Enterprise would look just fine up on the big screen. It’s not about the little details (aztec paint job, or minute surface detail for instance), it is completely about the lines, and proportions.

Looks pretty darned detailed to me, then again I do not make multi million dollar motion pictures for a living.

Important to remember that this ship was made in the mid 60’s for television. Later ships for TV and movies would have more details on the ship due to the viewers ability to see more detail on movie screens and better televisions.

It’s also important to note that Matt Jefferies was an engineer and actually had a concept of what was needed for a space craft. The smooth, simple finish had to do with engineering principles. The Enterprise had to be and was believable as a long term space faring vessel.

As much as I like the -A, she started to add clutter but not enough to ruin her.

Thank you for pointing that out, Harry.

I think the exposed wires are very cool. Adds a very nice behind-the-scenes element to the display. My thanks to the crew who restored it. We all appreciate your work. Also thrilled that the Okudas will be there for the ceremony. I met them at a convention 25 years ago and they were both so gracious and kind. I still have Denise’s Voyager business card!

it’s appauling & embarassing. The central Icon for Star Trek, the future, with wires hanging out the side of it- so much for imagination.
Its ok to mention it in notes & show pictures of her during filming but to present her to the public like this some tragic half finished archeic … ugh I can’t go on.
I was so excited that she was going to get a more accurate paint job then they ruin it with this.

Loosen up, homeboy. That’s the way the studio model looked and functioned. To ‘hide the wires’ would have presented a false / fictionalized version of the model.

Treat her like a lady, and she’ll always bring you home.

That actually brought a tear to my eye.

Truly she is soooo beautiful, that I would love to lay down next to her and rub her ample nacelles.

Posting lines from Star Trek movies and shows is getting old.


Sa-weet! That is one beautiful lady right there.

The Enterprise looks great,Ive read about other restorations and seen the god awful pics of them,but I really take my hat off to the Air and Space Museum for a job well done.

Another great job in Star Trek restorations is the great job done to the shuttle Galileo,
Amazing to have her back as for years she was considered lost.

If only someone could find the infamous “three foot model” of the Enterprise to clean her up too!

We DEMAND (beg) that this fine lady be used in the new series! It can be just a brief shot, but it would mean the world to fans. Maybe show her in her showcase at the Smithsonian and say someone is researching Kirk’s ship.

Even better with the lights on.

Excellent; thanks for that….

Yeah, that looks amazing!

I just wallpapered that picture, thank you!

Thank you for the pic.

Thank you to The Smithsonian, for taking this seriously and doing a superior job.

An iconic piece of design, to be outdone only by the TMP redesign.
I still think it's the most beautiful ship in SiFi-dom.
I have some misgivings about the added CGI to the TOS eps, but it beautifully shows off remarkable E.

Thanks BMAR, 50 more would be appreciated.

Hard to believe that the nacelle domes are held by visible acorn nuts. Starfleet must have some huge wrenches to turn that nut.

Why, yes. Yes they do.

Now that is a proper restoration. I remember being just heartbroken when I saw that awful painting of a prior restoration with all the gaudy gridlines. This really takes it back to its original glory.

A much better video can be found by following this link with the Enterprise lit up like a Christmas tree, They did an amazing job.


Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

Very well done. Very beautiful. And very much excitement about the only fictional artifact in this exhibit.

Star Trek forever!

It’s really much better than I could have hoped for. The Ship that launched my imagination and love for all “starships”. When ST:TE was still an ongoing concern, that was my Trek pilgrimage. Now to see the original 1701 in all of her screen accurate restored glory will be my new pilgrimage.

Thank you Smithsonian for the amazing job. She truly is a beautiful lady, and we love her!

I lived in D.C. for fifteen years, and I’m proud to say I saw the Big E up close and personal three times. Usually hanging from the ceiling, but I had a chance to inspect her good. And from the looks of these pics, they did an outstanding job restoring her – never looked better. She saw some rough years at the Smithsonian. For those of you who have never seen her, the feeling is a wee bit overwhelming. You just gotta stand there, looking, and think, “My God, it really IS her…………..!” What a rush for a real fan.

So the beauty still has a bad side, huh? WHHHHYYYYY?! I will read the articale and closely examine the pics later.

Anybody know why it’s green? Was that paint color chosen because of the lightning and blue screen photography so it turned out the gray/blue color it appears on screen? You know like how the gold uniforms are really green?

That looks a lot better! Still seeing what looks like attempts at weathering (rusty around the base of the navigational deflector on the secondary hull and grid lines on the edge of the primary hull) but overall MUCH MUCH better than the grid line airbrush nightmare it had before.

The model looks fantastic. The Smithsonian staff did an outstanding job. Their devotion and dedication to preserving this model is just wonderful and inspiring. Now, as for this article, poorly written and that video was terrible. The music to loud and that voice….oh…that voice.

Model looks terrific.

But why the split glass panel in front? Kind of spoils the primary-side view. I don’t recall that from the gift-shop display…

Beautiful! Just Beautiful!

Shocked, I was so excited that she was going to get a more accurate paint job then they ruin it with this.
it’s appauling & embarassing. The central Icon for Star Trek, the future, with wires hanging out the side of it- so much for imagination.
Its ok to mention it in notes & show pictures of her during filming but to present her to the public like this some tragic half finished…
People want to see her & imagine she was the ship that made all those journeys. how can the do that looking at a half painted model with exposed wires.

The Smithsonian is a museum. Their function is to display artifacts and keep them as close to how they originally existed and looked as possible. This restoration is an excellent example. The studio model was never designed to be filmed from it’s left side. To have mocked up new port side details to complete the model would have destroyed it’s authenticity. If they were going to do that, they might as well have built a new one from scratch. This is as close as we will get to how the model looked in the ’60s…exposed wiring and all ( in fact, this new wiring is less of an unsightly mess than what WAS originally hanging out of her port side in the 60’s. For proof, go this website and take a look at the 23rd and 24th pictures in the series of the 11 footer; It is being presented as what it was; a studio model.

They seem to have nailed it. Much better than the bad airbrush azteking of the last attempts.

Does anyone know what the “It’s Cloaked” sign is about and what it says?