By James Bacon: Phenomenal. Star Wars, Star Trek, StarGate, Space:1999, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Guardians of the Galaxy, crikey almighty, no matter what you love, there is something in this outstanding display of devotion to the wonder and fantastique of the screen for all.
This is an overwhelmingly incredible experience, there is so much on offer here and feels how a museum should, a living collection, a celebration and sharing of the passion fans have for the brilliant artistry and imagination that so many of us love and are entertained by.
Located in Milton Keynes, the museum is a registered charity and states that “These artefacts and relics are created and used for only a very short time to make those films before being discarded, and most are never seen again by the audience who cares so much about them. The National Film & Sci-Fi Museum is dedicated to saving these amazing creations and making them available for everyone to see and enjoy, and at the same time telling the story of their creation and the people who helped to revolutionise the way we see films today. Our team of volunteers are very busy working on the exhibits and displays and working with a team of experts from the film industry on the monumental task of bringing them to life, and sharing the magic of the art of film making.”
The Museum opened its doors to the public on Friday, August 27 and as promised, I was able to get in and have a really good look around.
Situated in the first floor of a stylized concrete building in MIlton Keynes, the team here have made good use of the 24,000 sq.ft. space. This is situated next to the previously-reviewed Pixel Bunker Retro Arcade.
As I walked in through the styled entrance, I was immediately taken by the Indiana Jones display. Glass cases holding a production-used Bull Whip, a Sankara Stone, River Phoenix’s Scout Hat and, and, and so much more….I was barely 3 feet from the entrance, adjacent to these cabinets full of history and then, ahead full costumes and an Ark of the Covenant.
I just stood, trying to take it in. I looked back and noted I had walked past a rendition of the Maschinenmench “Maria” from Metropolis, then the Indy display just grabbed my attention.
The Ark was stood next to a screen-used Indiana Jones costume, along with other costumes, and behind a Ralph McQuarrie production etching of the Ark firing out rays as used in the film, quietly sitting there.
I turn and there is an Alien display. With art and posters creating the backdrop for a Ripley costume and a sleeping pod, an Alien decorative skull from Predator 2, a Corporal Hicks costume, models, and so much more. I kept finding things I liked, and here no different, as I loved the look of the Reebok Alien Stompers. These were Rebook trainers/runners/sneakers, and I was so impressed, because I found them so fascinating.
Every which way one turns there is more to see, a James Bond cabinet had guns, props, hats. Octopussy, Moonraker and Licence to Kill all represented amongst so many others, and then a full size Ludo awaits to greet you and then a mixture of replica helmets from Top Gun, and Beverly Hills Cop items.
The Star Trek section begins subtly, a model of a Klingon War Ship, an original cover art from the ST:TNG book Exiles by Keith Birdsong, and a costume sketch from Star Trek The Motion Picture and soon the space opens up and a vast display of 25 costumes are presented.
I slowly looked at each and every costume, all the films and so many characters represented, Krudge’s Kilngon costume, as played by Christopher Llyod in The Search for Spock but which is explained as being repurposed for Star Trek TNG and DS9 and worn Robert O’Reilly playing Chancellor Gowron was fascinating, it’s that real history detail that I love.
With strong representation from Captains, my two mind blowing favorites were an Ilia costume, played by Persis Khambatta in Star Trek The Motion Picture and Chief O’Brien’s costume from seasons 6 and 7 of DS9.
I counted 11 different phasers, a multitude of tools and medical equipment, and badges. I walked right past a couple of cabinets more items and was impressed that the Grand Nagus cane used by Wallace Shawn in Deep Space 9 was on display and my favorite of the hundreds of Star Trek Items here was Spock’s headband from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. This is what the Museum has to offer, I realized. Not the usual, not clinical, while many grail items are here, and I am sure that the Picard or Shatner costume will be of interest, I realized that this collection spoke to me as a fan. That simple headband made me smile wide.
A huge model of Mole from At The Earth’s Core was situated across from a cabinet containing items from X-files and Skeletor and Eternian Helmets from Masters of the Universe.
The Space:1999 display had a huge backdrop, Comlock and gun prop, and then a host of wonderul models. It was clear that like many others James Winch was sharing much of his collection.
The Gerry Anderson section was also very impressive, the Zelda cube from Terrahawks amongst other possibly more iconic items standing out for me, but lest you think we were in a quintessentially British section with Sherlock, Doctor Who and Red Dwarf on the horizon, a Jaws display had the Orca’s radio, Quint’s baseball bat a mechanical scale model of Bruce, as the shark was known to the crew, and a scale model of the Orca.
The Sherlock display was incredible, the whole of Sherlock’s flat rebuilt here in the Museum. There was a long list of key props from given episodes listed, so the observer could spot them and 8 large cases with further props were outside. Martin Freeman’s Watson props including his Afghanistan service medal. I stood and looked at the items, and looked into the Sherlockian living room.
The Doctor Who section is very impressive, so many costumes, and such key ones too, and then all the props, it was so very cool, and next to the Red Dwarf team which felt perfect.
If I thought the Star Trek was incredible, I was just not ready for the Star Wars displays. A wonderful space, surrounding a globe, with cabinets and display cases, feeling so science fictional in layout, and there was so much. I have to say, here, there were some legendary items that I never expected to see, and I have seen a number of exhibitions of Star Wars props and costumes, and there were some very very special items. I stood a looked for a long time at one pair of items, and wondered how people will react.
There were heads, helmets, blasters, costumes and some incredible key props. Pieces of props, and every cabinet stylishly laid out, some so full. For fans of Star Wars weaponry, there was a full display, for those interested in the intricate and beautiful there were amazing personal props, there was something here for everyone.
It was lovely to see the Liberator and a host of other items from Blake’s 7 in a dedicated display, with many items on loan from Matt Irving.
I was so impressed that there was a Flash Gordon display and oh my god, war rocket Ajax. And his sword, yeah, so many lovely things.
There is a general approach from the Museum that they want things to be a surprise, and I was surprised, but there are so many things here for so many fans and there’s a love here – a special case contained Gary Kurtz’s baseball cap – Star Wars the saga continues, and the Star Wars items were from the Kurtz-Joiner archive and one felt that a real level of appreciation and genuine hard work had gone into so much of the museum.
I was very impressed to see so many items from Peter Cushing, personal as well as related to film, and this was very cool, a nice space for such an accomplished actor.
Throughout the museum, I was surprised, I was not anticipating all the Star Wars toys, nor the Harry Potter props, nor the John Williams Star Wars orchestral sheet paper. And there is a fabulous attention to detail here, as well a real demonstration of love for history and the artistic creativity that goes into it all.
It’s hard to process just how much is on display here, hard to comprehend, but what Jason Joiner and his team have gathered here at the National Film and Sci-Fi Museum is testament to collectors and fans who want to share their passion, view the unexpected up close and appreciate it.
An incredible museum, and a wonderful visit.
The National Film & Sci-fi Museum is in central Milton Keynes at 34 Secklow Gate West, MK9 3AT, England.
File 770 is very grateful to Jason Joiner, the trustees and volunteers of the Museum and appreciate the photographs.