“To boldly go where no man has gone before…,” is a well-known and iconic quote that has been referenced throughout culture in shows and movies. A generational franchise like Star Trek broke boundaries, creating a cult following for all sorts of people, especially those interested in science fiction. At first, it started as a television show, but that later grew into several spin-off shows as well as film adaptations. It’s no wonder that our friends at The Skirball Cultural Center decided to highlight a phenomenal franchise like Star Trek. We went on the scene to ask members of their staff a series of questions of why they decided to focus their current exhibition on the world of Star Trek and more. Read below to see what they answered!
Q&A between Albert Tran (Marketing Intern, TeenTix LA), Meredith Lancaster (Administrative Assistant for Communications and Marketing, The Skirball Cultural Center), Jennifer Caballero (Marketing Director, The Skirball Cultural Center) and Laura Mart (Curator, The Skirball Cultural Center)
Why did your organization decide to choose to curate an exhibition about the history of Star Trek?
Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds is a traveling exhibition curated by the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Washington (also known as MoPOP). Star Trek, which has been a cultural touchstone for generations of viewers, aligns beautifully with what we aim to do at the Skirball Cultural Center every day. For 55 years, Star Trek has portrayed a future in which diverse crews of humans and interplanetary species work together toward a common goal, strengthened by their members’ different cultures, abilities, and perspectives. There is a close connection between this optimistic, inclusive vision and the Skirball mission, which is guided by Jewish traditions of welcoming the stranger, fostering community, promoting justice, and celebrating hope and discovery. Star Trek’s vision resonates deeply with the Skirball’s commitment to using the power of the arts and storytelling to help build a society in which everyone belongs.
What about the exhibition coming to fruition are you most proud of?
What always brings us satisfaction as cultural presenters is seeing the impact of our offerings on our audiences. Even with the ongoing pandemic, we have been able to welcome visitors to experience an exhibition filled with joy and fun as well as powerful messages about overcoming challenges by working together across differences. Many of our visitors have even shown up in Star Trek costumes, and their enthusiasm creates an extra level of excitement among the other visitors and our staff.
Since Star Trek is pretty well-known and a fan-favorite franchise amongst communities, what was the process like in choosing pieces and artifacts that would fit well with what you have envisioned?
Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds was collaboratively organized by the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Washington (also known as MoPOP) and ViacomCBS.
By being an arts partner with TeenTix LA, what are hoping will be teens’ biggest takeaway after visiting the exhibition?
Teens will hopefully leave encouraged and with an optimistic view of the future. The crews of the Starship Enterprise and other Starfleet vessels often face great challenges and suffer losses, but with their bravery, intelligence, and teamwork they make it through with innovative solutions and new lessons for the future. That spirit feels appropriate for the time we are in now, with the great challenges we face from the pandemic to climate change.
Have you and your team seen Star Trek, and if so, who’s your favorite character and could you explain why?
It's hard to choose a favorite character. However, when visitors to the exhibition check in at the front desk, they will be able to choose a sticker featuring the captain and leadership quality they most identify with, such as:
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Diplomacy
Captain Kathryn Janeway: Determination
Captain James T. Kirk: Courage
Captain Benjamin Sisko: Adaptability
Captain Michael Burnham: Ambition
What are your and your team’s favorite pieces in the Star Trek exhibition?
The spaceship models, the captain’s uniform from all the major TV shows, the restored helm and navigation console from the original series, and of course the furry Tribbles hidden throughout the gallery.
Is there anything that you would like to add or mention about the Star Trek exhibition you haven't yet shared?
As you visit the exhibition, you will see some of the most beloved characters from Star Trek, who showed us the value of a wide range of skills, abilities, and qualities in a team. The interstellar cultures of Star Trek - like the Klingons and Vulcans - show us the importance of intercultural understanding and communication. Non-human characters who are part of Starfleet - like the android Data, and half-human, half-Vulcan Spock, shed light on aspects of what it means to be human through their outsiders' perspectives. By taking audiences to the stars, Star Trek reflects facets of our own experience on Earth and gives us a vision of what we could be at our best. As Gene Roddenberry said, "I believe in humanity. We are an incredible species. We're still just a child creature, we're still being nasty to each other. And all children go through those phases. We're still growing up, we're moving into adolescence now. When we grow up - man, we're going to be something!" Star Trek inspires us to be something - brave, optimistic, and inclusive. And like Star Trek, this exhibition is also fun - something that we are all in need of these days!
We definitely agree that everyone needs a little fun, despite the current circumstances. Check out The Skirball Cultural Center’s Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds exhibition! It is currently open for all of you to visit until February 20th. Since they are our arts partner, teens with our TeenTix Pass can purchase their ticket for only $5. Also, check out our events calendar for more information on our website. Make sure you take advantage of this deal before this exhibition drifts off to another galaxy. “It’s time to boldly go… where no man has” to The Skirball’s exhibition!