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50-year Star Trek exhibit in Iowa

Published:Monday | May 16, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Star Trek memorabilia is displayed at a special exhibit at the University of Iowa's Main Library in Iowa City, Iowa.
A cutout of Captain James T Kirk greets guests at a special Star Trek exhibit at the University of Iowa's Main Library in Iowa City, Iowa.


The galaxy of Star Trek has lived - and prospered - longer than just about any other American television show.

Almost 50 years since the original TV show aired on NBC, its worlds and characters (Captain James T. Kirk, Mr Spock and many others) loom larger now than they did in those early years, the Iowa City Press-Citizen has reported.

The University of Iowa Libraries, whose staff is populated by Star Trek fans - "Trekkies", for short - is capitalising on 2016 being the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek universe with a new exhibit in the main library's gallery. Featuring a multitude of art created by 'Trekkie', one-of-a-kind documents from the UI's connection to Star Trek and many out-of-this-world Star Trek toys, the exhibit celebrates what has made the series so beloved.

"Star Trek was very much a show of its own time. It has a very late '60s vibe," Peter Balestrieri, curator of the science fiction and popular culture collections for Special Collections, said on Wednesday as he walked through the exhibit.

"Notions of living in peace, that cooperation is better than competition, that exploration and science are more valuable than conquest and interplanetary imperialism, those are beautiful notions in Star Trek that people are still connecting with."

The exhibit opened April 25 and runs through the summer until August 5. Inside the gallery are both the sights and sounds of Star Trek. Muted pink, blue and yellow lights enshroud action figures and spaceship replicas, while the sounds of space and the USS Enterprise carry across the room.

"Any Star Trek fan will feel at home here," Balestrieri said.

The original Star Trek television show first aired in September 1966. Centred around the exploits of the crew of the USS Enterprise in the 2260s, Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner, and Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, explored the Milky Way.

Their five-year mission was "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone before".

After the show was cancelled in 1969, the franchise's popularity actually increased. In 1979, the film franchise was started with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The film series's second film, 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, was directed by UI graduate Nicholas Meyer and was both critically and commercially successful.

"It keeps rolling through all these permutations, and all of these permutations managed to be successful," Balestrieri said of Star Trek's 50-year run. In total, there have been 12 Star Trek movies, with the 13th, Star Trek: Beyond, scheduled to be released this summer. There have been six Star Trek television series, with the seventh coming to CBS next year.