Road Warrior

'Star Trek' turns 50 next week: Here's where to boldly go to celebrate

Harriet Baskas, Special to CNBC
A model of the USS Enterprise
Source: Smithsonian Institution | National Air and Space Museum

Warp speed, Trekkies — Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the first televised episode of "Star Trek," and to commemorate the occasion, some venues across the U.S. are boldly going where they've never gone before.

Die-hard fans know that first show's name ("The Man Trap"), plot (it involved salt), and massive amounts of other Trek minutiae by heart. But even if phrases such as "Beam me up, Scotty" and "Live long and prosper" are all you know about the science fiction show that spawned a decades-long entertainment juggernaut, you can't ignore its place in popular culture.

It's also why so many esteemed institutions are celebrating the golden anniversary with such gusto.

"'Star Trek' is today as much a part of our culture as Superman or Jane Austen or disco," said Brooks Peck, a curator at Seattle's EMP Museum, where the exhibition "Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds" will run through Jan. 31.

The house that creator Gene Roddenberry built "is constantly referred to in film, television, music and literature. People use 'Star Trek' metaphors to argue policy and in legal rulings," said Peck. "And that's because everyone almost universally understands the characters and themes of 'Star Trek.' It is a modern mythology, and its characters serve as modern archetypes."