The original studio model of the Starship Enterprise used in the television series “Star Trek” came to the Smithsonian Institution thirty-five years ago, donated by Paramount Studios in 1974.
When the television show ended in 1969, the starship had been crated and stored at the studios. Over time, heat, cold, humidity and other elements had taken a toll on the structure, the wiring and other internal components as well as the exterior paint scheme. Before it could be put on exhibit, extensive restoration was required.
The first Smithsonian restoration took place shortly after the starship was received and was completed by July 29, 1974. This restoration was coordinated with Matt Jeffries, one of the original designers of the starship, and Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek.
A second restoration was done ten years later, between August 8, and September 11, 1984. And a third restoration was carried out in the Winter of 1991.
In addition to these restoration and conservation efforts, on June 22, 1999, the starship underwent X-Ray analysis at QC Laboratories, Inc., in Aberdeen, Maryland.
In the 35 years that the National Air and Space Museum has held it, the Starship Enterprise has gone through in-depth conservation and restoration, making it one of the more extensively preserved and studied objects in the Museum’s collection. It is currently on display in the lower level of the National Air and Space Museum Store, where every year it is seen by millions of people from all over the world.
Gregory K. H. Bryant is Museum Registrar in the Office of the Registrar at the Smithsonian, National Air and Space Museum.