By the way, I see that there's presently a Transformers exhibit [http://airandspace.si.edu/exhibition...ansformers.cfm
]. While that may be appealing or inspirational to current generations, and provide a draw, does that mean that Transformers should remain a permanent part of the museum?
I don't think that's a valid comparison. The historical context is very different. Star Trek
came along at the cusp of the space age. It ended just a month and a half before humans first set foot on the Moon. While there had been at least two prior SFTV shows that had made some effort at scientific accuracy -- Tom Corbett, Space Cadet
from 1950-55 and Men into Space
from 1959-60 -- Star Trek
was the only SFTV show to portray spaceflight in an intelligent and non-cartoony way during the period when crewed spaceflight was becoming a reality. And that put it in a unique and important position, enabling it to resonate and synergize with the real space program in a way that no prior or subsequent SF franchise could match.
Images exist of the 11 footer before its restorations as well as still shots (not frames from episodes) of what the model looked like during production of both pilots as well as the series. These and other behind-the-scenes shots can be compared directly with what the model looks like now.
Such heavy weathering as well as the exaggerated gridlines (as well as lines added that were never there in the first place) can clearly be seen to have not been there when the model was in its prime. I can't believe this is really being contested.
Everything should be open to critical examination and question. That's just basic rationality. There is no holy gospel here. Truth is found by asking questions and keeping an open mind.
Yes, we have images of the model before its restoration, but under what lighting conditions? It's been said that the stage lighting washed out a lot of the detail. The model in the gift shop is under much gentler lighting. One thing that a lot of people don't understand about film is that the way something looks to the naked eye can be very different from the way it looks in a photograph, due to the nature of the lighting, lenses, film stock, etc. being used. For instance, Kirk's velour tunic in the first two seasons was actually avocado green like his wraparound tunic, but it photographed as gold because of the way the material reflected the bright stage lighting. So we can't assume that the way something looks in a photograph is a reliable representation of how it would look to the naked eye.
Based on the information I've been given, I suspect that the original miniature was somewhat more detailed than it appeared in photos, but less detailed than the Miarecki restoration. But that's just a supposition. I don't know for sure.
So what we need is to move beyond supposition to something more useful. Ideally, this is something that should be tested by experiment. Somebody should make replicas representing various levels of surface detail, photograph them under conditions matching those under which the existing pre-1974 photographs were taken (same lighting, same camera equipment, same film stock and exposure), and see which version most closely matches the available photography. That would help take the guesswork out of it, or at least minimize it. Arguing doesn't resolve anything; experimentation could. There are a number of amateur and pro modelmakers out there who could be recruited to conduct such an experiment. (Or we could suggest it on the Mythbusters
fan site. They've done Star Trek
However, altering signage on the model (even if it was normally hard to see) is a blatant change bordering on vandalism. It's near akin to historical texts being tweaked and altered during translation or restoration simply to suit someone's more contemporary agenda.
I think that's expressed a bit harshly, but I do agree that alteration is incompatible with the goals of restoration.