In 2016, after almost two years of extensive research and meticulous conservation, the Star Trek starship Enterprise studio model, restored to its appearance at the end of filming for the original television series (1966-1969), was placed on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.
The Museum’s goal was to stabilize the model, document its history of changes, and return it to its appearance during filming, in August 1967, of the episode “The Trouble with Tribbles,” which marked the last known modification of the model during Star Trek’s production.
Along the way we:
- Assembled an advisory team of industry experts
- Performed an in-depth scientific analysis of the model’s composition
- Revealed construction details and documented the chronology of paint layers and markings
- Analyzed original paint under the saucer bolt cover
- Were helped by fans who submitted photos of the model from 1964 through 1976
- And even hosted “Nerd Camp”
You can follow our journey here and uncover, from paint to hardware, everything we know about the starship Enterprise model.
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Want to know what colors are on the 3-meter (11-foot) Star Trek starship Enterprise studio model? Read more to find the colorimeter readings for the colors we uncovered during our sanding tests and other conservation work on the model.
The studio model of the Star Trek starship Enterprise is now on exhibit in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. After taking it off exhibit in 2014, assembling a special advisory committee, examining it using x-ray radiography, searching out long-lost photos, and planning the work in great detail, months of hard work culminated in several weeks of painting, detail work, rewiring, and final assembly. In the end, the whole project was a tremendous collaboration.
Stardate 1601.28: After a year of extensive research, conservation work on the original studio model of the USS Enterprise is now underway in the Museum’s spacedock.
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.
The door was locked, but a swipe of a security access card rewarded us with a satisfying “click.” Someone pushed the double doors open and we stepped into the laboratory. We paused for the briefest instant as my eyes, and those of my fellow campers, were transfixed on the object on the other side of the room: The Starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series.
Who do you call when you need to know everything there is to know about the Star Trek starship Enterprise? As the curator for that artifact—the original 11-foot model used in filming the Star Trek television program that aired from 1966 until 1969—I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and learning about Star Trek. The Museum has a lot of source material to rely upon: the acquisition, restoration, and exhibit record for this artifact stands at more than 1000 pages (and growing). In fact, I hired an intern two summers ago just to create a comprehensive index for that record so that I could know, for certain, whether I had checked every relevant document in it when searching for an answer. That review of the Museum’s records was a part of the move of the model that I have been planning for several years.
When the National Air and Space Museum opened in 1976, the production model of the Starship Enterprise was prominently and dramatically displayed hanging at the entrance of “Life in the Universe” gallery. Later, when that gallery closed, and the starship was moved to several other locations within the museum.
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.