The exhibit opening Saturday, May 21, at EMP Museum, ‘Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds,” examines the show’s rich history in fascinating detail.
In the opening credits of the first “Star Trek” television series, the USS Enterprise was said to be on a five-year mission. Five decades is more like it. That’s how long it’s been since the first show aired in 1966, and the “Star Trek” phenomenon is still going strong.
So far, there have been five live-action TV series (with a sixth, yet-to-be-named series on the way for 2017), an animated series and 12 movies (with the 13th, “Star Trek Beyond,” scheduled to open in July).
The show has had a cultural influence beyond the realm of sci-fi fans, from the use of popular catchphrases like “Beam me up, Scotty” to NASA naming one of its space shuttles in the 1970s after the starship Enterprise.
Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds
The exhibit runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, May 21, through Feb. 17, 2017, at EMP Museum, 325 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle; $5 plus museum admission of $16-$15 (206-770-2702 or empmuseum.org).
“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” screening, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 22; $10-$12.
All events at EMP Museum.
EMP Museum’s “Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds” exhibit, which opens Saturday, May 21, examines the show’s rich history in fascinating detail. The first weekend featured an opening-night party, film screenings and appearances by two cast members of the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” TV series — Brent Spiner and Denise Crosby, who played Data and Tasha Yar, respectively.
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The exhibit should delight “Star Trek” fans with its wide range of more than 100 items, which includes the costumes of all five “Star Trek” captains; gadgets such as communicators and tricorders; the outfits worn by the genetically engineered villain Khan, in his 1982 and 2013 film incarnations; and plenty of tribbles, the fuzzy creatures that wreaked havoc in “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode. A mock spaceship corridor even features purring tribbles.
The impressive centerpiece is a re-creation of the Enterprise bridge from the original series, featuring the captain’s chair and a restored navigation console. It’s the first time these objects have been on public display in a quarter of a century. A replica of the chair will sit in EMP’s lobby, ready for photo ops.
Other fun interactive options include a transporter simulator, where you can be filmed being “transported” to another planet, and a video booth where you can emulate Captain Kirk screaming Khan’s name in frustration in the film “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”
But the show is about more than its props. As exhibit curator Brooks Peck points out, “Star Trek” regularly tackled social issues of the day, looking at them through the lens of science fiction — a good way to get controversial issues past the censors.
“Star Trek” always championed diversity, for example, with its racially integrated cast, and added a Russian character to the show in 1967, a time when cooperation between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. seemed “highly improbable,” as the show’s Mr. Spock might have put it.
In Peck’s view, the show also espoused “a really strong belief in trying to find nonviolent ways to solve problems, and to get along with people who might be incredibly different. ‘Star Trek’ is more than just a space adventure show. Gene Roddenberry [creator of the show] would say, ‘I don’t think this is our future, ‘Star Trek’ is about us, now.’ I think that’s really true. It’s about exploring who we are. It’s about imagining an optimistic future where we’re at our best.”
Quite a legacy for that “five-year mission.”