Life is not going too well for "Star Trek: The Exhibition" as the Riverside Metropolitan Museum in California -- just outside of Los Angeles -- is pulling in far fewer crowds than originally anticipated.
The exhibit was expected to draw 40,000 people over an eight-month visit, and gross some $800,000 for the museum. Instead, less than 4,000 people have visited since "The Exhibition" opened in June, and new estimates project some 17,000 people -- less than half -- will end up visiting the Star Trek exhibit, bringing in just $340,000.
Mike Gardner, a member of the Riverside City Council, told The Press-Enterprise that he isn't giving up quite yet on the exhibit.
"I would agree that on the surface, [the numbers] look disappointing," he said. "But the anticipation all along has been that attendance would pick up in the fall and winter."
One of the things that may be hurting the exhibit is the fact that it's not in the museum itself, but instead in its own gallery a couple blocks away. Even with that separation, museum officials said that even if traffic to the exhibit continues at its current pace, it will still draw attention to the main museum.
The museum rented out the space specifically for "The Exhibition," and so far has spent $140,000 on the visit, while earning just over $79,000.
"The Exhibition" has had a rough life since it was first announced in 2007. Originally called "Star Trek: The Tour" and run by SEE Touring Productions Inc., the then 50,000-square-foot exhibit opened in January 2008 at the Queen Mary Dome in Long Beach, Calif., where tickets started at $30 -- twice what they are now.
The exhibit was successful on the Queen Mary, and was even extended for a couple more months. However, once the exhibit closed, SEE found itself in a battle with one of its investors over $200,000. SEE lost the rights to the exhibit later that year, and its new owners split the tour up into two sections, each touring the country separately.
Riverside currently has the second piece of the tour, which does not include some aspects like the bridge from the Enterprise-D used in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." That, instead, is in Aerospace Museum in McClellan, Calif. Both exhibits have stayed close to California, however. The current Riverside exhibit has been in both Phoenix and Philadelphia, while the first half of the exhibit ventured out to Detroit in early 2009.
In the meantime, Riverside museum officials are hoping for the best.
"We're happy that this has brought the museum to a new level of visibility," said Venita Jorgensen, the chair of the museum's board of directors. "It looks to me like if attendance stays the same, we're going to break even. But I would expect attendance to increase."
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