‘Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds’ at EMP Museum

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EMPStarTrek50-MainI previously mentioned the upcoming Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds exhibit at EMP Museum, but yesterday I actually got to check it out ahead of its opening this weekend, May 21st.

As a huge Trekkie (mostly ST:TNG as I recently mentioned), this exhibit was amazing! Curator Brooks Peck has once again put together an incredible exhibit. He wanted to highlight the influence of Star Trek on the world while also spotlighting its often bleeding-edge diversity, and the exhibit meets and exceeds both of those goals while also just showcasing a ton of cool stuff.

Filming Miniatures. Photo by Will James.

Peck managed to not only get props from every iteration of Star Trek, but there is also a captain’s uniform from each show. There are also the actual filming miniatures of many of the ships including the 1701-D from TNG, the Deep Space Nine station itself, and a Borg cube from Star Trek: Nemesis.  All told there are over 100 props and artifacts from the various TV series and movies.

Photo by Will James.

When you first enter the museum, you are treated to a replica of Kirk’s captain’s chair which is perfect for photo-ops. Did I get the captain lean right?

Cardboard Set. Photo by Will James.

One of the coolest props in the whole exhibit is the first one you see when entering–the original cardboard set replica that was used to plan episodes, shots, and takes. If you’ve ever wondered what the set of TOS looked like, this was it.

Restored bridge components. Photo by Will James.

The exhibit is designed with a bridge as its centerpiece from where visitors go out to explore. The bridge is comprised of the original captain’s chair and Chekov and Sulu’s control panels. When the museum received these pieces, they were quite beat up and had to be restored. While some of the original patina was left on, the electronics were all re-done. And in typical geek fashion, the guys who re-wired the blinking lights weren’t content to just make them flash randomly. They studied the original episodes and programmed the lights to be perfectly in-synch with the originals.

Mannequin Colors. Photo by Will James.

Usually the EMP designs their mannequins to disappear into the display to better highlight the props and costumes placed on them. But, because Star Trek was such a driving cultural influence on diversity, Peck made the conscious decision to do something different. The mannequins were painted to reflect the ethnic diversity of the actors who portrayed the characters. They even gave the Klingon mannequin an appropriate forehead!

‘Star Trek’ Timeline. Photo by Will James.

There is a really cool timeline for those of you, like me, who love timelines and infographics, that details out the entire timeline and where every show and film falls. The timeline was designed by students from Cornish College of the Arts.

KHAAAAAN!!! Photo by Will James.

Not to just rest on the laurels of a bunch of cool props, EMP has also designed and created a bunch of interactivity into the exhibit. The Khan booth lets you watch Shatner’s famous “KHAAAAAN” yell before recording your own version. Your face and yell is then inserted into the clip for your viewing pleasure. You can even have the video sent to your e-mail to share with your friends!

Create an Episode. Photo by Will James.

The Create Your Own Episode wall is a really fun interactive tool that can also be used for education. While you can just choose a protagonist, antagonist, conflict, action, reversal, second action, and lesson to build your own story, the real meat of this piece is in the story structure education. The display breaks down the classical storytelling structure (inciting action, rising action, climax, and resolution) and can be used by teachers to teach a story arc in a fun, Star Trek-centric way. My story was “Wesley Crusher encounters Khan who is attacking Earth with a doomsday weapon. The hero decides to travel back in time but discovers they have hidden powers waiting to be unlocked, so the hero must sacrifice one of the crew to save the ship and learns the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one.” Thanks for your sacrifice, Wheaton!

The transporter room. Photo by Will James.

Although it wasn’t available for the press to try out, I am definitely going to visit the exhibit again to try out the Transporter Simulator. Guests will be directed to act out being transported from the transporter room down to an alien planet. After a few minutes of playacting, they will then be able to watch themselves inserted into those scenes, complete with special effects!

All you need is love. Photo by Will James.

Sprinkled throughout the exhibit are what Becks has dubbed “Away Team Encounters.” Each of these stations provides an opportunity for visitors to learn about an issue raised in the show and examine their own thoughts and feelings about it. For example, I played with the “Could You Love Someone Who Changes Bodies?” station that discusses the Trill and loving someone who physically changes while remaining mentally and emotionally the same person. TNG tackled this first and when Dr. Crusher’s love changed sexes, she couldn’t handle it. But then on DS9, the same thing happened with Dax and the same-sex kiss wasn’t a big deal (to the characters. It was as big deal for audiences at the time). Looking back at that TNG episode, it’s hard to imagine that the enlightened civilization of the future would have any problem with a same-sex couple, but it was just one of the topics Star Trek was ahead of the curve on bringing into mainstream discussion.

Citizens of the Galaxy. Photo by Will James.

The last interactive piece is “Citizens of the Galaxy,” which Peck likened to NPR’s “StoryCorp.” Visitors can listen to clips and interviews from people whose lives have been influenced, changed, and even saved by Star Trek. I love hearing stories of how Trek has changed people’s lives, especially because it had such a profound impact on me.

If you are even the slightest bit a Star Trek fan, you absolutely do not want to miss out on the Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds exhibit at EMP Museum.

In addition to the exhibit, there are four great events taking place at EMP to celebrate the opening of the exhibit and Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary. I’m really disappointed that I won’t be able to attend the weekend’s festivities.


Step aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise and be among the first to see the new exhibit. Featuring a mobile planetarium from University of Washington, command chair photo-op, Starfleet Academy interactive game, live DJs (including DJ SassyBlack of THEESatisfaction), drink specials, tabletop gaming and more!

Date: Friday, May 20

Time: 7:30pm-11:00pm

Venue: Sky Church at EMP Museum, 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109

Tickets: $36 ($29 members, $22 youth ages 5-17); all ages, 21+ bars with ID


Snap a photo with Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar) and Brent Spiner (Data) of Star Trek: The Next Generation at an autograph and photo session in EMP’s Sky Church while enjoying Make It So! Star Trek-inspired crafts and the command chair photo-op.

Brent Spiner is most identified for his role as Data the android on Star Trek: The Next Generation, a beloved character whose artificial skin he inhabited for seven seasons and four motion pictures.

Denise Crosby made a huge impression on the Trek universe as Lieutenant Natasha “Tasha” Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and later was the co-executive producer of the feature documentary Trekkies.

Date: Saturday, May 21

Time: 11:00am-4:00pm

Venue: Sky Church at EMP Museum, 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109

Tickets: Free to attend. Additional charge for photos and autographs.

Additional charge for photos and autographs. Onsite sales only; cash and credit cards accepted.

Crosby: $40 autograph, $40 photograph (5″x7″), $40 selfie (or $60 selfie + autograph combo)
Spiner: $50 autograph, $50 photograph (5″x7″), $30 selfie


In Trekkies (1997, PG, 86 min.), Star Trek actor Denise Crosby takes a first look at the huge fans of Star Trek and how the series has affected and shaped their lives. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session.

Date: Saturday, May 21

Time: 4:30pm (4:00pm doors)

Venue: JBL Theater at EMP Museum, 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109

Tickets: Free with museum admission; all ages


Admiral Kirk, Spock, and the crew of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise face off against their most villainous foe yet—Khan. Plus, a Star Trek-inspired photo-op, trivia, and food specials.

Date: Sunday, May 22

Time: 7:30pm (doors 6:30pm)

Venue: Sky Church at EMP Museum, 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109

Tickets: $12 ($10 EMP members, youth ages 5-17); all ages; tickets also include admission to Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction

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4 thoughts on “‘Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds’ at EMP Museum

  1. This looks like it will be a lot better than I thought it would be, cannot wait!

    1. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a Trek fan. It’s much more interactive than the Star Wars exhibit (which wasn’t curated by EMP like this one is). You can really feel how much love Peck has for Trek and put into the exhibit!

    1. That’s a great question and I wanted to include that info but they haven’t disclosed the end date. I don’t think there is a specifically planned end date yet. It will probably depend on popularity of the exhibit, the new movie’s success, and what comes along next. All that being said, the exhibits that the museum curated themselves like this one usually stay longer than traveling exhibits like the Star Wars one.

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