Los Angeles’ Skirball Cultural Center ventures into television history. Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds (open October 7 to February 20, 2022) features rare props and costumes from the age of 55 in the landmark sci-fi series.
In addition to costumes worn by stars Patrick Stewart, Leonard Nimoy and Nichelle Nichols, there is a phaser from the original series (only one of two known to exist); a model of a Borg cube; and the head of the alien Gorn, the lizard creature William Shatner’s Kirk fought in the classic episode “The Arena” from 1967. The exhibition spans new and old with both the Khan tunic with open chest worn by Ricardo Montalbán in Khan’s peace (1982) as well as the less revealing costume Benedict Cumberbatch sported playing a younger version of the character in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek Into the Dark (2013).
The centerpiece of the exhibition is a navigation console operated by Lieutenant Sulu (George Takei) in the original series. It was badly damaged and lacked most of the buttons after 50 years of storage, so the team beamed up a group of fans to help restore it.
“They knew all this – where they could find the various contacts they used back then in a warehouse that has been sitting there for 50 years,” says Brooks Peck, curator of Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, which has lent the exhibit to Skirball. The restaurateurs even made sure that the lights flashed with exactly the same timing as on TV.
Visitors also get the chance to trade in plug phases and tricorders in a re-creation of the transport bay, with a video monitor showing what the scene would look like in the show as they fire up the phases and get beamed up.
Expect to see more than a few Star Trek fans-Trekkies helped invent the Comic-Con culture-dressed in costume. “It’s very encouraging,” says Skirball curator Laura Mart, noting that a recent exhibition by Jim Henson experienced a lot of creative wear. “I hope we get more of the fun.”
This story first appeared in the October 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.