News & Politics

Why the Starship Enterprise Does Not Belong in the Smithsonian

Screenshot via CBS.

I understand that some of you who read this will be Star Trek fans. You may even call yourselves “Trekkies”, which is a silly word I have heard. I, on the other hand, have never seen an episode of Star Trek, unless you count an 11 PM showing of J.J. Abrams‘s 2009 reboot. I don’t count it, because I fell asleep.

Today I read, in the magazine I work for, that a replica of a spaceship (not even the real spaceship!) from Star Trek has been installed at the Smithsonian. This feels like a mistake. Then I read on to find out there is a person (a self-described Trekkie, no less) whose whole job it is to find pop-culture-y stuff to exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum. This is basically a nonsense job, and I am jealous she found it before me.

Here are some reasons to exclude the Starship Enterprise from our national science museum:

1. It teaches us nothing about science. It is highly unlikely that this vessel is even space-worthy. It might even be anti-science. My husband just told me that the Starship Enterprise could go into warp drive, which even NASA thinks is most likely made up.

2. I think the exhibit is likely to attract the wrong element.

3. I personally hate it when venerable institutions try to be hip. This is far worse. This is a venerable institution massively miscalculating what is hip.

4. What does it say about us that we need a spoonful of Hollywood tie-in to make us interested in the fact that we actually, in real life, sent a real life human to the actual moon? Just take your medicine, people.

5. Small kids used to leave the museum dreaming of becoming astronauts, which was a noble if improbable dream. What’s it going to feel like to explain to little Sophie, that no matter how many STEM classes she takes, she’ll never be a Vulcan?

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Contributing Editor

Amanda has contributed to Washingtonian since 2016. She has written about the right-wing media personality Britt McHenry, chronicled her night with Stormy Daniels, and come clean about owning too much stuff. She lives on H Street. She can be reached at [email protected]