As members of the local Mars Society and NSS chapters, my family was invited to a "friends and family" preview of Star Trek: The Exhibition at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. It’s an exhibit we had intended to see anyway, but seeing it on opening day with a bunch of other fans and space enthusiasts was too good to pass up.
The short summary: It’s a fun exhibit for fans of TOS or TNG, or fans of the Trek universe in general. It’s worth going just for the chance to sit on the Enterprise bridge or stand on the transporter pads. More of my review after the jump, including photos and a short YouTube clip.
The geeklet got to sit in not just one, but three captain’s chairs. Kirk’s was the most dynamic because it was part of a complete bridge set. He could shout orders at the other stations and really get into the spirit. (I personally could see hanging out on that set with a group of like-minded friends for quite a while on a not-so-busy day. The lighting is spot on, and photo opportunities abound.) Picard’s chair was interesting from a technical point of view; he wanted the controls on the armrests to light up, so I used my iPhone as a stand-in. (Bonus points to any iPhone developer out there that makes an LCARS simulator using multi-touch. I’m just sayin’.) His favorite, though, was the Klingon captain’s chair tucked in a corner. He just wouldn’t get out of that thing. Why? Because it swiveled and reminded him of Uncle Stephen’s La-Z-Boy. And there you go.
Mixed in with the sets are props, costumes, and bits of information about both the shows themselves and the future history of Star Trek. There’s enough to justify a thorough viewing, or in my case a promise to return without an impatient four-year-old. For instance, as you walk down an Enterprise-D corridor and peek into Picard’s quarters, be sure to turn around and find all the easter eggs in the okudagrams on the wall.
The transporter room from TNG is another complete set, with both the transporter pads and a station for the operator. Visitors can stand on the pads and be "beamed down", and the effect is shown on a plasma display. (I didn’t get a chance to try it myself, but I did post a short YouTube clip of the effect.)
The most grin-inducing set is just past the transporter room, which makes sense from a beaming-down perspective if not from series continuity. "City on the Edge of Forever" is a favorite TOS episode of mine, and the time portal set really stuck in my memory. Not because it was particularly well executed, but because it’s such an iconic figure, an ancient ruin of something unimaginably high-tech. It’s also the backdrop for some seriously cheesy acting and effects, so we didn’t feel out of place taking photos and hamming it up.
The movies and the other shows (Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise) are given some space here and there for a few uniforms and props, but don’t expect to see Sisko’s office or Khan’s bridge. There are also a few nods to current NASA hardware and missions, but it is an Air & Space museum after all.
The Exhibition is expected to stay in San Diego through the summer, and possibly until the end of the year. This is the first stop (well, second depending how you count) on a tour that’s expected to visit cities all over, but there’s no schedule yet.