LOS ANGELES — If you plan to be anywhere near Los Angeles between now and February next year, a trip to the "Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds" exhibition should absolutely, positively feature in your plans.
Opening this week at the Skirball Cultural Center — located just north of the Getty Museum, in-between Bel Air and Sherman Oaks — the exhibition features a rare gathering in one place of equally rarely seen items from throughout the 55 years of "Star Trek" history. It includes the rescued and tastefully restored captain's chair and helm control console from "The Original Series," Khan's (Ricardo Montalbán) actual, screen-used costume from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," screen-used costumes from "Discovery" and even Data's (Brent Spiner) screen-used head from "The Next Generation" two-part season cliffhanger "Time's Arrow" (Season 5, Episode 26 and Season 6, Episode 1).
The items have kindly been loaned by various collectors from around the world, but most of them come from Paul Allen's personal collection; the late co-founder of Microsoft was a big fan of science fiction.
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There are also several interactive experiences including a "beaming down" simulation where you stand in an "Original Series"-era transporter room and watch yourself energize down to a hostile planet where you must fight with phasers to survive. There's also a seemingly simple-sounding Jefferies tube photo opportunity, which if you were to visit the exhibition in cosplay, would make a truly enviable post on social media and you too could look like you're desperately trying to reach the warp drive plasma induction coils.
There's even a detailed map of all the "Star Trek" timelines, particularly relevant now that the second season of "Picard" will be falling back on time travel as a story arc. If all else fails, this will almost certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons and stimulate some (hopefully healthy) discussion as to which timeline we're actually on.
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There are also panels and displays that explain the history of this epic television sci-fi show, from its premiere in 1966 and the incredible effort made by fans for a third season after NBC tried to cancel it after just two. Then came efforts to reboot the show and that resulted in "The Animated Series" and when every movie studio jumped on the sci-fi bandwagon following the success of "Star Wars" in 1977, we got "The Motion Picture." But it was really the epic "Wrath of Khan" that saved the franchise and the rest is history.
Not only is this exhibition a treat for Trekkies — who, along with admiring these iconic items from the show's history, will wholeheartedly relish in the opportunity to meet other, like-minded devotees and discuss which series is best and why — but this is a fantastic way to introduce people who might not be aware of the impact of "Star Trek" has had on contemporary pop culture. Not everyone knows that a sci-fi show that aired 55 years ago starring a melodramatic actor from Montreal and a guy with pointy ears was such an astutely observed, well-written metaphoric reflection of important issues facing society at that time. And this has continued, right up to the present day.
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"With this exhibition, we're looking towards the future; it's a hopeful, optimistic future where humankind unites with other interstellar societies on a peaceful mission of exploration and diplomacy," Managing Curator Laura Mart said.
"That spirit feels appropriate for the time we're in now, with the great challenges we face, from the pandemic to climate change. 'Star Trek' has inspired generations of fans for over 55 years not just because of its futuristic vision, but also by showing that anyone can be a leader. Every Starfleet crewmember, including humans of a wide range of backgrounds and abilities as well as members of societies from other solar systems, are valued for their contributions and talents."
"Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds" opens at the Skirball Cultural Center on Thursday, Oct. 7 and runs to Sunday, Feb 20, 2022. In order to keep a handle on crowds during these perilous times, 90-minute time slots are available from Tuesday to Sunday, every hour on weekdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. PT and every hour at weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT.
Plus, there are events planned for throughout October, including a discussion titled "Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology" on Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. PT and on Friday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. PT there's a screening of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" preceded by an in-person talk and audience Q&A with the director of that epic movie, Nicholas Meyer.
Health and safety policies, pricing details and ticket information can be found on the Skirball Center website. (Look out for all the strategically placed Tribbles, too.)
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