Sci Fi Museum’s Lease Gets Terminated at Former Sears Building

The News Comes as a Slew of Controversies Surround the Museum and Its Founder

By Zach Armstrong

Amid tumultuous setbacks and controversy, the Sci-Fi World museum is leaving its space at the former Sears Building before it ever even opened.

Aubrey West, a representative of the museum, made the announcement during the public comment period of a recent Santa Monica City Council meeting, stating that although the museum was slated to open next month, the building owners Seritage decided not to renew its lease.  

The news comes as a slew of controversies surround the museum and its founder, Huston Huddleston, including a child porn conviction, as detailed in a report by the Los Angeles Times. 

According to the report, “Star Trek” superfan Huddleston, 54, said he had relinquished control of the nonprofit and its collection to the museum’s chief executive due to the potential negative impact of his child porn conviction. Nevertheless, former volunteers told The L.A. Times that he remained deeply involved in the museum’s operations.

To make things more complicated, Chief Executive John Purdy and General Manager Cory Dacy resigned their posts in the weeks leading to Sci-Fi World’s initial grand opening date. Purdy cited Huddleston’s violation of their contractual agreement, while Dacy noted Huddleston’s regular presence onsite, as reported by The Times. Additionally, CBS Studios issued a cease and desist letter, alleging unauthorized use of “Star Trek” elements. 

Sci-Fi World originally set an opening date for May 27. When that day came, however, as its unpaid volunteers were dealing with a turbulent staffing situation and tried to handle regulator compliance all by themselves, the interior wasn’t prepared for visitors. 

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 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 to Mirror Media Group at the time of the grand opening let down. “All we want is for this to open and for people to enjoy it and to hopefully be a successful nonprofit.”

Now, it appears those ambitions won’t be realized at the Sears Building, located at 302 Colorado Ave. just a short walk from the Santa Monica Pier. A person speaking on behalf of Seritage declined to comment on proposals currently being offered for the space, or what specifically went into the decision.

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, as its website stated.

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

These were to 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.

in Hard, News
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