The original USS Enterprise filming model has resided at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. since Paramount donated it in 1974. Since that time, the eleven-foot model has undergone several renovations — causing a great deal of controversy in certain fan circles — as it’s been moved from wire suspension in the museum’s entry hall, to standalone exhibits in New York City, and then into storage for several years in the late 1990s.


In March 2000, the museum opened a newly-renovated gift shop located in a sub-level of the building, with the large Enterprise model as a centerpiece, protected in a large glass case in the center of the shop — and that’s where the model has resided for the last fifteen years, tucked away under the main exhibitions.

The National Air & Space Museum announced this week that as part of the museum’s fortieth anniversary in 2016, the Enterprise model will be one of several acquisitions moved to the popular Milestones of Flight exhibit which greets visitors at the main entrance to the building.

This 3.4 meter (11-foot) model of the fictional Starship Enterprise will go on display in the reimagined Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. ‘Star Trek’ pushed the boundaries of network television with its depiction of a mixed-sex, racially-integrated, multinational crew and its attention to contemporary social and political issues.

It will join other significant artifacts in this gallery to showcase the importance of popular culture’s influence on society.

It seems only fitting that this relocation of the Enterprise model will coincide with Star Trek’s fiftieth anniversary, as well as the release of the next entry in the Trek film series.




  • Stephen

    So will Steve Neill be let loose to remove the grid lines?

    • Chris915


      However, his criticism is a just one, since there were no grid lines in terms of actual grid lines, the originals were basically penciled on the model.

  • tom_k35

    Only the grid lines atop the saucer should be left. Plenty of photographic evidence that they are original, prior to any “restoration”. It’s my understanding that the Smithsonian said that the top of saucer should not be touched, so it remains the same (except for fading with time) since its filming days

    • Chris915

      Well, the grid lines were essentially penciled on originally, before the “restoration,” so there was no actual structural grid lines… nothing you could feel if you ran your fingers across the saucer.

      • tom_k35

        Well, penciled or not, they’re present on the series production version when weather effects and the “rust ring” were added. You can’t “feel” the lettering or paint colors, too, but that makes them no less real.

        • Chris915

          Apparently, you misunderstood what I said… I didn’t say there wasn’t grid lines, I said, on the restoration, they are really really there… not penciled on, like the pre-restored model, but rather, they added actual inset grid lines onto the model, which it originally, didn’t have… the saucer was a smooth surface, it didn’t have inset grid lines.

          I also know the weathering was on the studio model original, I’m specifically addressing the grid lines and how they were applied to the restoration… someone described the actual detailed grid lines as they appear on the model now, as “rain gutters.”

          • Frank B.

            It would be great if the NASM uses the historic opportunity, withdraws the model from public exposure in the basement – now – so that an accurate restoration is possible in the next two years.
            According to original publicity stills from the 1960’s the 11-footer had penciled on subtle grid lines on the top of the saucer and the starboard bottom side of it (I’ve seen post 1980 close up pictures that revealed these original grid lines were still in place, then). However, I’ve not come across any original photographs that hint that any kind of grid lines were ever present on the engineering hull or the warp nacelles.
            I really don’t like her current “Frankenstein” look. If she is to welcome visitors in 2016, she should look like she did in her prime in the 1960’s and on television. Like a virgin watched for the very first time.

          • Chris915

            My problem isn’t with the grid lines themselves, but rather how they were applied in the “restoration.”

            I don’t think there were any on the secondary hull, certainly not the one side, since it wasn’t ever completed…

            Steve Neill did an accurate 66″ scratch built replica, here’s a picture of that replica:

            Hard to see, I need find some of the close-up photos he took.

  • Dr. Cheis

    It would be cool if they could figure out a way to keep the internal lights running during the operational hours. Enterprise just doesn’t look the same with dim gray nacelle caps.

    • tom_k35

      There are some photos of it from the early 90s with some interior lights on, but not much has ever been mentioned about the condition of the lighting. Series production people said the lighting heated the model too much to let them stay on long. But more modern, cooler running lighting could certainly be installed

      • Dr. Cheis

        If I understand correctly, the nacelle caps weren’t the same ones on the model today (same goes for the deflector). I actually wonder if the ones that are on the model now even move or light up if powered?

        • tom_k35

          I think the nacelle domes and deflector dish were either damaged or went missing when the model was originally shipped to the Smithsonian. They were reconstructed for the first restoration (above), though poorly. But the most recent restoration were very accurate recreations

  • MJ

    This is just freaking A W E S O M E ! ! ! ! !

  • Glad to see the old girl getting some love and attention!

  • M33

    “as well as the release of the next entry in the Trek film series” – is this an assumption or is this based on something? Would be great if it was so!

    • 2016, the 50th anniversary of the Trek franchise, is the target date of the next film; this has been stated publicly by the writers of the movie.

      • M33

        Cool. Thanks! It would be great if it was also a launching point for a new TV series. Seems Seth MacFarlane is trying his hardest to get in with the science and hollywood trek folks with “Cosmos”. He certainly has a passion for it and the capital and influence to hopefully make a new tv series a reality.

  • AdmNaismith

    Good. The basement giftshop is not the place for something like this. Why not just put Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers down there, too?

  • Dr. Cheis

    I’m curious if they’re going to retouch the starboard side it is missing detail. It makes sense to keep it blank in its current display case, since it is showcasing the model as a studio prop, but if they’re going to suspend it without the advantage of the display graphics, that blank side will confuse guests. (It was blank because the ship was never shot from that angle; that’s where cables went in to power the lights. All shots of the ship from that angle were actually of the port side with mirrored lettering applied.)

  • Trekbilly

    I think they should strip it and reaping the whole thing accurately!!! Back to what it was when TOS was being shot! If the wiring and lighting is screwed up, they should redo that too — accurately!!!

    For the 50th anniversary, it need a proper treatment!

    I’d hire Greg Jein, Doug Drexler and the Okudas to oversee the refurbish this time! Don’t give it to an amateur again!!

    I’d be willing to contribute to funding this — I know many fans would as well!

  • Zod

    I saw the model early last year, There are a few cracks cracks and a large piece of paint is flaking off one of the nacelles. The restoration, like it or not, doesn’t seem to be holding up very well after all these years.

  • Zoe

    I’m part of a family of DC-based Trekkies (A literal family; my parents and myself.) and we are all beside ourselves right now.