The Enterprise NC-1701 Goes Up At the Smithsonian Air&Space

For a decade of my life, I did special events in Washington DC, which mean loading in gear for dinners and events in all of the Smithsonian Museums. But none was more hateful than having to work at the National Air and Space Museum. The carpet is so thick in the DC museum, case wheels sink into it. Everything out at the Hazy drips with oil and other gunk. And both museums stretch on for days, which means that every day there equaled miles and miles of walking.

I have never set foot in either one since leaving that job (though I have cheerfully gone to others, like the Portrait gallery, the American Indian Museum and the National Art galleries with no complaint.) But now, for the first time, there is a reason for me to break that vow. The Enterprise is there. No, not the shuttle–that used to be at Hazy, and I crawled under that quite enough thank you–but the NC-1701, from the original Star Trek series.

Apparently the Smithsonian’s had it for years, stilling in the basement gathering dust. (This should not shock people.) But with everyone suddenly realizing it’s the 50th anniversary this year, they grabbed it out, did a painstaking restoration, and put it out for tourists to come gawk at. (Good job at keeping that 50th anniversary stuff under wraps, Paramount–sort of like the “Beyond” posters don’t actually say Star Trek? You know, by this time in the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who year, we’d already had 6 three-hour specials , with six more to come *and* an actual 50th anniversary special episode.)

According to NASM’s website:

The final stages of the conservation treatment came together in the last few months. In April 2016, the Enterprise model, in pieces, was in the large artifact booth in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar. Special Advisory Committee member Gary Kerr was dubbed our “oracle,” double-checking his notes and diagrams before any detail went onto the model. (There are 952 holes in the faux grill inside the starboard nacelle. He counted.) And Bill George and John Goodson, both of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), worked with Kim Smith of Pulse Evolution to carry out the physical detailing. Together, they were consummate professionals, bringing their expertise into an ongoing conversation with the Museum staff. More than once, the whole team stopped work to discuss the choices being made, assuring that everyone agreed before proceeding.

The Enterprise is now on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall in the National Air and Space Museum, DC.

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