CEO of New Sci-Fi Museum Steps Down Before Grand Opening, Interior Premiere Delayed

The Delay Also Comes as Staff is Handling Regulatory Compliance with Local Officials

By Zach Armstrong

Outer space, futurism and fantasy enthusiasts looked forward to Memorial Day for a first look inside Santa Monica’s latest tourist attraction: SCI-FI WORLD: The Experience. The new museum, located within the former Sears building on Colorado Ave. just a short walk from the Pier, set a May 27 grand opening date for its 30,000 sq. ft. display of movie props, costumes and replicas.

Unfortunately, the event did not go as originally planned. 

Rather than being held inside the museum, the Gala took place in its closed off parking lot with some artifacts brought outside for photo opportunities. Many of the patrons were refunded, but as one attendee put it on social media, “it’s kind of hard to reschedule something when people like me have already paid for their flights and hotel stay that are non-refundable.”

The let down comes as unpaid volunteers of the museum now confront a turbulent staffing situation and are handling regulatory compliance with local officials.

In the weeks leading up to opening day, executive producer for the Titanic – Movie Tour and now-former CEO of SCI Fi WORLD John Purdy quit his position along with two members of its managing staff. From there, remaining volunteers tried working with City officials and building ownership to meet permit and code requirements in time for the premiere. But when May 27 arrived, the interior wasn’t prepared for visitors. 

“We have a new CEO whose name we will reveal soon, and is a well-known horror producer/director,” the museum stated in a Facebook post. “After the [opening] we will reorganize with our new team, and see what is needed from the city to get us open. Hopefully we can get this done in a few weeks. What we refuse to do is give up, and to quote a certain captain, we don’t believe in a no-win scenario.”

A visit to the non-profit museum is a dream come true for a sci-fi & fantasy geek, as the space is abound with original props and replicas from seemingly every iconic TV show and film of the genre. 

These include: The Enterprise Bridge set from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 25 foot bubbleship from Oblivion, a full size Alien Queen and Powerloader from Aliens, along with artifacts from Doctor Who, Planet of the Apes and Lord of the Rings. The museum’s latest acquisition, the 10 Forward set from Paramount+ Star Trek Picard, was used in the opening of Picard episode one, season one, starring Sir Patrick Stuart and Brent Spiner. 

Tickets for the exhibit were set to go for $20/children and $30/adults, with discounts for seniors, military and first responders and free admission for those under 6 or over 90. Annual memberships start at $60. 

Sci-Fi World started out in 2012 as New Starship Foundation. Its initial mission was to preserve a Paramount-built Star Trek Enterprise-D display bridge, as seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation, its website explains. Over the years, NSF gained support from Star Trek stars such as William Shatner and George Takei. Additional support was gained, from the cast and crew of shows including Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who, to include the creation of Sci-Fi World to NSF’s mission.

The Foundation has raised over $200,000 from supporters, according to its website. 

“The city and police have been wonderful to us and really want us to succeed. Everyone of us is an unpaid volunteer right now, a new CEO is coming, but there’s still a lot to figure out.” a spokesperson stated in a message. “All we want is for this to open and for people to enjoy it and to hopefully be a successful nonprofit.”

in Hard, News
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