If you’re looking for an authentic and unique Star Trek experience, Ottawa’s got it this summer and… It’s a world premiere!
Housed in the Canada Aviation and Space Museum’s expansive Reserve Hangar, the special 10,000-square-foot interactive Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience exhibit is running from May 13 to Sept. 5, 2016. And trust me, whether you’re a trekie or not, this is a fun summer exhibit that you don’t want to miss.
Erin Gregory, who curated the new exhibit and who is a long-time Star Trek fan herself – she used to watch it as a child with her father – noted in an interview with Ottawa Tourism that the exhibit goes far beyond the classic television show. “It’s really not your typical props and costumes show,” Gregory said. “This is really a chance to get hands on in an incredibly interactive environment and of course, sprinkled through that are authentic, beautiful objects from the show.”
The bright and futuristic exhibit invites visitors to put on a Star Trek bracelet and to move through various tasks related to communications, medicine, navigation, science, engineering, tactical and command as a Starfleet Academy cadet. For example, in the exhibit’s Navigation section, you must scan your bracelet to then pilot the legendary Starship Enterprise. Through the use of a huge, interactive touch screen, you have to navigate the ship to avoid obstacles and reach the warp zone in time. There’s also a Starfleet aptitude test that tells you which Starfleet position you’d best be suited for and what type of leader you would be.
According to the museum, the Starfleet Academy Experience isn’t just about becoming a Commander, it’s about all different types of careers coming together to make an organization work. Gregory noted that as the visitor moves through the exhibit, he or she will learn new things about themselves. “It’s not just about Star Trek, but it’s about how you can fit into those [different] worlds as well,” she said.
Among other exhibit highlights, you’ll find a Star Trek Species Selfie station. Take a photo of yourself with the television screen that’s provided and then, customize it with various Star Trek species features. Want a selfie with Andorian antennas? Go right ahead. You can even change your hair colour too!
And just a few steps from the selfie station, you’ll find one of the exhibit’s coolest assets; a teleportation station. Stand in a green screen box and watch closely as you are teleported across the room! Also, the best part of all these unique Starfleet Academy experiences is that they are documented through your bracelet. Once you’re done going through the exhibit, your ‘Species selfie,’ teleportation video and more will be sent to your email address.
But though the exhibit focuses on the Star Trek future, it also strives to make connections to past and present technologies in its different sections. For example, in the exhibit’s Phaser Training section, the relevance of this iconic weapon in present day society is explained. Though phasers of all sizes are used in the Star Trek television series to completely disintegrate various objects, the exhibit highlights the fact that such a weapon could not exist in real life as a nuclear-strength weapon is needed to effectively vaporize any type of matter. Many interesting facts like this are strewn throughout the exhibit.
Chris Kitzan, Director General of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, said at the exhibit’s media preview last week that Star Trek was “ground-breaking” in terms of the futuristic technologies it presented to viewers. “The innovations it inspired were also ground-breaking when you think about flip phones and 3D printers,” Kitzan said. “So when you go through this exhibition, we want you to take a moment now and then to have a look at some of the connections between the old technologies and the new.” He added that this is the first time the museum has held a world premier. “It’s quite exciting for us,” he said.
Now, what Star Trek experience would be complete without a visit to the iconic bridge of the Starship Enterprise?
Towards the end of the exhibit, you come to a recreation of the bridge, complete with a trademark Commander chair, which you can sit in yourself if you wish. Also, the artwork in the recreated bridge is 100 per cent authentic. According to the museum, it was created by Michael Okuda, the scenic graphic artist who designed the Enterprise-D control system interface. “We hope visitors have the opportunity to sit in the Commander’s chair or to teleport themselves from the Starship Enterprise,” Kitzan said. In this area, you’ll also find a Star Trek Hall of Fame featuring favourite characters such as Commanding Officer Jonathan Archer, Commanding Officer James Kirk and Commanding Officer Jean-Luc Picard, among many others.
Ottawa is the first stop on this exhibit’s multi-city North American tour. Tickets are $18 CDN for adults, $15 for teens and seniors, and $12 for children. With your ticket, you receive free admission to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and 50 per cent off admission to the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum.
Also, if you have little ones who are interested in Star Trek or in aviation and space in general, you can enroll them in the museum’s Starfleet Academy Summer Day Camp. During the camp, which is offered in July and August, kids will be able to see the Star Trek exhibit, learn to classify planets and galaxies, learn to speak Klingon, take a flight in a Cessna 150 and more!
On Two Can Trek Tuesday, two can Trek for the price of one from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm.