Go boldly where 'Star Trek,' 'Star Wars' have gone

NH Weekend Editor
May 23. 2013 12:27AM
TAKE A SEAT: Fans of the 'Star Trek' franchise are invited to check out set chairs used by LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge in the 'Star Trek: Next Generation' TV series. 

Photos courtesy of Tim Taber, exhibits coordinator LIVE LONG AND PROSPER: A Mr. Spock cookie jar is among the items displayed in a whimsical exhibit dedicated to the science-fiction genre at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord. Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of the half human-half Vulcan with pointy ears, permanently raised eyebrows and a logical, unemotional approach to life and his job has earned him a legion of fans since “Star Trek” first aired on television in the 1960s.

Since the '60s when William Shatner first boldly went where no actor had gone before, TV spin-offs and big-screen adventures have beamed the starship Enterprise into pop-culture history, with its phasers firmly set on stun.

Timed to coincide with the national release of the latest cinematic installment, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” starring Chris Pine in the role of the intrepid Capt. James T. Kirk, The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord invites space adventure fans to strap in for an journey closer to home.

Museum officials put out a call to the community earlier this year for science fiction memorabilia, and the result is an exhibition that celebrates a decades-long intergalactic odyssey. Items on display include the suit worn by Grace Lee Whitney as behived Engineer Janice Rand in the original “Star Trek” series and early films and set chairs used by LeVar Burton for his role as the eye visor-wearing Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge in the “Star Trek: Next Generation” TV series.

The center's executive director, Jeanne Gerulskis, is a self-proclaimed “Trekkie” who has been a fan of the franchise since the seventh grade, when she had a crush on Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock, the half human-half Vulcan with pointy ears, permanently raised eyebrows and a logical, unemotional approach to life and his job.

Gerulskis, who contributed a quirky collectible Mr. Spock cookie jar to the whimsical exhibition, hopes to fuel the fun by not roping off the displayed set chairs, purchased in 2006 at a Christie's auction in New York City of the “40 Years of Star Trek Collection” from CBS and Paramount Studios. Visitors to the Concord museum will be able to take a seat, and snap some Facebook-worthy shots next to a full-sized image of La Forge.

But check the captain's log; the Discovery Center's ongoing exhibition also journeys to a galaxy far, far away with “Star Wars” memorabilia, including a collection of Wookies, the bear of a biped introduced in the original 1970s film as Hans Solo's hairy pal Chewbacca.

“It all started with Fred Bramante of Daddy's Junky Music stores, who has a science fiction toy collection. He brought them by and asked if we wanted to have them on display,” Gerulskis said. “When I heard about the 'Star Trek' movie opening up, I put out a call to the community to bring in some of their” treasures as well.

The eclectic assortment pays homage to the genre and an enthusiastic fan base with a sense of humor.

“Jaymes Simoes (of Louis Karno & Company) brought in a model of the Enterprise ... and a girl from Chichester brought in a Mr. Potato Head Darth Vadar,” the black-helmeted, heavy breathing bad guy of the first “Star Wars” film, Gerulskis said.

Other items on display include a Lunar Lander G.I. Joe figure and the original TV and film-version robots from “Lost in Space.”

Hours at center, 2 Institute Drive, Concord, are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 1:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, as well as 6:30 to 9 p.m. on the first and second Friday nights of the month. For details, call 271-7827 or log onto

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