Image: Elizabeth Howell
The Canadian city of Ottawa isn't exactly a mecca for Trekkies (that title probably belongs to Vulcan, Alberta). So it was a surprise to hear that a huge new Star Trek exhibit was opening here, launching its North American tour earlier this month. Astronauts Marc Garneau and Robert Thirsk were on-hand, as was Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), to welcome an exhibit that includes Data's brother's head, a Borg costume, phaser guns and the bridge of the USS Enterprise.
I asked around to find out why the Starfleet Academy Experience premiered in Ottawa, at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, instead of more traditional Trekkie stomping grounds like New York City.It came together partly due to a meeting at a trade show with creator EMS Entertainment, who warmed to the idea of premiering it here when the aviation museum said it would focus on bringing summer camps through, and incorporating educational activities.The museum hopes to attract at least 100,000 new visitors with Starfleet, and the release of a new Star Trek movie in July should beam up the numbers.I paid a visit on Friday. Even though most people were still at work, and the weather outside was beautiful, there were lineups, and a healthy number of people were wearing Starfleet uniforms.Good to know what the dress code was, because I'm going back. Maybe I'll wear a Borg costume next time.
On the original Star Trek, Captain James T. Kirk ran into a bunch of furry pom-poms called Tribbles that multiplied until they threatened to bury him and his crew alive. The infamous creatures from the Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" are one of many props inside the exhibit. You can't touch them (they're inside a case). There's also a space-age medical bay where you can treat a patient, a spot to learn basic Klingon, a transporter bay and many, many costumes.
No, this isn't the Samsung flip phone from 2006. It's a communicator from one of the Star Trek shows. Long before iPhones were literally everywhere, Star Trek in the 1960s would show crew members using these devices to stay in touch. (Usually, they were asking for help "beaming up" to the Enterprise from some alien planet.)
Some examples of costumes from several different shows, including The Next Generation (center) and some of the early Star Trek movies with the original cast.
If you look closely at these wall and console panels—which are copied off the originals—you can see abbreviations paying tribute to cast and crew members. Some examples include "Pa Ste" (for Captain Picard, or Patrick Stewart) and Ge Rod" (for creator Gene Roddenberry.)
One of the hobbies of Star Trek writers is finding creative ways for the USS Enterprise and other ships on the show to meet their demise. The Enterprise came close to destruction in the last Star Trek film in 2013, so the tradition is alive and well. These are models from TNG and Deep Space Nine.
You like phasers! We got phasers. This is phaser training for a potential Starfleet trainee. Pick up a phaser next to the screen and do some target practice, trying to get your mark within those circles. No vaporizing your opponents, though.Starfleet is in Ottawa until Sept. 5. A parallel version of the exhibit will open at New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum July 9 and run through Oct. 31. Calgary's Telus Spark Science Centre will also host the exhibit from February to June 2017.