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Restoration of the Starship Enterprise

Posted on Thu, June 4 2009
  • by: Gregory K.H. Bryant
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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.

 
Star Trek Starship \"Enterprise\" Model - Arrival at Smithsonian
The hull and one nacelle of the original Star Trek Starship Enterprise model as it was received by the National Air and Space Museum from Paramount studios on March 1, 1974.

 

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.

The Starship Enterprise during its first Smithsonian restoration. SI Neg # 74-3977

 

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.

Star Trek Starship \"Enterprise\" Model Restoration #3
The Star Trek Starship Enterprise during its third Smithsonian restoration, December, 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.

Star Trek Starship \"Enterprise\" Model Restoration - X-Ray Analysis
The Star Trek Starship Enterprise model undergoing X-Ray analysis at QC Laboratories, Inc.

 

Star Trek Starship \"Enterprise\" Model Restoration - X-Ray Image
X-Ray photograph, detail.

 

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.