We’re Sending the USS Enterprise Back in Time

Posted on Tue, September 8 2015

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


Starship \"Enterprise\" Model in 1987

The Star Trek Starship Enterprise Model on display in the National Air and Space Museum's Rocketry and Spaceflight gallery in downtown 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.


Starship \"Enterprise\" Model in 1964

The Star Trek starship Enterprise model outside the Production Model Shop in Burbank, CA, December 29, 1964.


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.


Starship \"Enterprise\" Model in 1975

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 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. LLAP!