From several yards away, the bridge of the Starship Enterprise looks as if it was beamed down from the 23rd century into the “Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds” exhibition that opens Saturday at Seattle’s EMP Museum.
But up close, you can tell it’s a 50-year-old movie prop, with rocker switches from the ’60s and bits of plastic peeling off the control console.
In a weird way, that’s a big part of the golden-anniversary exhibition’s appeal. When the TV show had its premiere in 1966, “Star Trek” was all about a bright and shiny future. It still is, but the exhibition also casts a spotlight on the social issues and foibles that have shaped the saga over the course of five decades.
“Star Trek” is famous not only for its optimistic vision of spaceflight and technology, but also for its allegorical references to the civil rights movement and cultural diversity, East-West tensions and the rise of environmentalism, gender identity and same-sex relationships.
“All these are ingredients that you can see get funneled into ‘Star Trek,’” museum curator Brooks Peck said today during a preview of the exhibit. And they’re funneled into the exhibition as well.