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We’re Sending the USS Enterprise Back in Time

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You can help. Conservators at the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory are working to restore the original, 11-foot studio model of the USS Enterprise, used in all 79 episodes of the television series Star Trek, to its appearance from August of 1967. We are looking for first-hand, primary source photos or film of the ship’s early years. Images of the model during production or on public display anytime between 1964 and 1976 will help conservators determine the model’s exact configuration at different stages of its journey. Hailing frequencies are open at

The Star Trek starship Enterprise model used in filming of the original Star Trek television series as it looked on display in the National Air and Space Museum’s Rocketry and Spaceflight gallery in Washington, DC in 1987.

The model, composed primarily of wood, sheet metal, and plastic, was built by the Production Models Shop, a company in Burbank, CA, in 1964. It underwent several modifications during production of the series, the last of which was completed in August of 1967, at the end of filming for the episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” We hope to restore the Enterprise to that configuration.

The Star Trek starship Enterprise model outside the Production Model Shop in Burbank, CA, December 29, 1964. Image copyright Volmer Jensen, provided by Steven Keys

Following the cancellation of the series, the model was crated and stored at Paramount Studios. Before being donated to the Smithsonian, it was displayed only once at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, CA in 1972. The event was Space Week, a ten-day menagerie of science activities, including exhibits of NASA hardware, a speech by sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke, and an appearance by the world’s favorite retired Constitution-Class starship. More than 50,000 people visited Space Week, and the Enterprise conservation crew hopes some of them brought their Kodachrome and Instamatics.

The Star Trek starship Enterprise model on display in the Smithsonian Arts and Industries building in 1975.

In 1974, the model made the voyage to its new home in Washington, D.C., where it was displayed in the Smithsonian’s Arts & Industries Building. On July 1, 1976, the beginning of America’s Bicentennial weekend, the brand-new National Air and Space Museum building opened its doors to the public. The Enterprise was prominently displayed at the entrance to the Life in the Universe gallery. The Enterprise will go back on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall in time for the Museum’s 40th anniversary next summer. Watch for updates on the Museum’s social channels or join the conversation by using #MilestonesofFlight.

Star Trek Starship Enterprise model on display in the "Life in the Universe" gallery in 1976.

Star Trek starship Enterprise model on display in the Life in the Universe gallery in 1976.

Did you or someone you know encounter the Enterprise during its working life in Hollywood between 1964 and 1969? Did you attend Space Week at Golden West College in 1972 or see the ship at the Arts & Industries building in 1974/75? Were you one of the five million visitors who saw the ship in the new National Air and Space Museum in 1976? If so, the Museum wants your photos! To find out how to submit electronic copies of first-hand photos or film of the Enterprise studio model, please e-mail

Please note: Screen captures from episodes, previously published photos, or images currently available online are not needed.


Nick Partridge is a public affairs specialist at the National Air and Space Museum

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11 thoughts on “We’re Sending the USS Enterprise Back in Time

  1. Hello Mr Partridge,
    Please contact me regarding the restoration of the USS Enterprise studio model.
    I used to work for Brazil Fabrication and Design and we built many of the studio models used in later series such as DS9 and Voyager as well as a couple minor movie models.
    I was the Lead Model Maker and Shop Supervisor so I have extensive experience with these models from concept through creation and delivery on set.
    I would be willing to work on the USS Enterprise for free if my travel expenses were covered. It would be an honor to be a part of the team restoring it.


    Chris Nicastro

  2. I hope you guys open up submissions to be shared online. Not only would this draw more attention to your efforts but it would be VERY helpful to us fans who are always working to achieve the perfect model of the USS Enterprise. It’d be awfully neighborly of you as well.

  3. Hello and to whom it may concern,

    My name is Boyd Crompton and I would like to offer my services to perform the paint work/restoration of the Starship Enterprise studio filming model. I am a professional painter by trade with over 30 years of experience and I work with the latest in painting refinishing technology. I believe that I can provide a finish on the model that will last for decades and have the look of the original paint work that you are seeking.

    I am an avid life time fan of the original television series and I know every inch of the ship as Scotty would say. I have been building scale models of the ship professionally and my work is highly regarded in the modeling community. I operate a youtube channel called TrekWorks where for the last 5 years I have been building large scale Enterprise models and teaching others on how to do the same.

    My channel is approaching 2 million views and has 8,000 subscribers to date and counting. I have built these ships for private clients all over the world. In that process I have become very close friends with
    Mr. Paul Olsen a world famous airbrush artist who performed the incredible paint work done on the 8 foot Enterprise model used in the first six Star Trek feature films. Paul would be consulting with me and together I believe we can restore this iconic piece of history with the best possible methods and attention to detail possible. Both Paul and I would be incredibly honored for the opportunity and would volunteer our services completely for free. I invite you to check both of our backgrounds and our accomplishments in making your selection for this incredibly important project.

    Thank You,

    Boyd Crompton

  4. Dear Mr. Crompton,

    Thank you for contacting us. This post is a request for fans and museum visitors to submit first hand photos of the original Enterprise model to assist with the archival research phase of our project. This will help our conservators determine the appearance and configuration of the model at each stage of its journey. The response thus far has been outstanding, and we have received some extraordinary images. It has been an excellent way for fans to participate in the conservation effort.

    We appreciate your offer to lend your expertise to the restoration aspect of this project. We recognize your extensive work with scale models, and the contributions of Mr. Olsen and Mr. Dow to previous Star Trek productions. We are working with an expert advisory panel on this project to ensure that all aspects of the conservation are considered from multiple perspectives. We have also conferred with other experts in the fields of model, prop, and materials conservation. The project is well underway, and we are not seeking new consultants at this late stage. Thank you again for your kind offer. It is great to know that this project has such passionate support in the Trek modeling community.

    We are all looking forward to seeing the model returned to prominent public display next year. You are correct that the ship is an icon to millions of fans around the world, and an important artifact of the cultural aspect of spaceflight. Because of this, the Enterprise studio model will be displayed in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall opening in July 2016. In addition, we have made a special effort to keep fans informed at each stage of the project, from the Enterprise’s move to the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory, to the selection of our advisory panel, and even x-ray analysis of the model. Stay tuned for more updates coming soon.

    Thank you again,

    Nick Partridge

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  6. The great bird of the galaxy smiles down on you for bringing the starship Enterprise back to her original 1960s glory. The over detailing of the last restoration process I found to be discouraging. I’m glad someone understands that not every prop has to be “re-imangined”. Now let’s return the original special effects on the actual T.V. show and we’re good!

  7. Can somebody put me in touch with either Volmer Jensen or Steven Keys, who are described as being the copyright holder of that image of the Enterprise in Burbank? I am writing a book about Burbank and would like to use this image in my book.

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