From 1966 to 1969, over a span of some 79 episodes, an 11-foot model of the USS Enterprise from the "Star Trek" franchise boldly took audiences to places they had never gone before. This iconic piece of movie history was donated by Paramount to the Smithsonian in 1974, where it was displayed in the National Air and Space Museum's gift shop for decades. As part of a new upcoming exhibit on the "Milestones of Flight," the Smithsonian is returning the faded model to its former glory — but it needs your help.

“We are looking to take the model back in time as accurately as we can as how it looked in the second season,” Smithsonian curator Dr. Margaret A. Weitekamp told Chron. “We believe that with the power of the show’s fan base, we can do this.”

The museum performed three paints jobs on the USS Enterprise in 1974, 1984 and 1991. The last one, however, did not go over well with fans.

"It was too weathered and there were grid lines that were too extensive; that's the key aspect of concern," Adam Schneider, who is on the advisory committee to participate in the Enterprise's restoration, told

USS EnterpriseThe 11-foot model of the USS Enterprise that appeared in all 79 episodes of the original 'Star Trek.' (Photo: FlugKerl2/WikiMedia)

Weitekamp and her colleagues are turning to fans of the "Star Trek" franchise to see if any of them might hold some photographic evidence of what the massive model looked like in August 1967. That moment, just after the classic "Trouble with Tribbles" episode aired, was the last time the ship underwent any major modifications during the original series.

Fans' first glimpse of the USS Enterprise model came during a viewing in 1972 at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California, during Space Week. Some 50,000 people attended, and Weitekamp is hopeful that maybe a few took some photos during their visit.

If anyone does happen to have some original shots or videos, they're encouraged to send them to

The restored USS Enterprise is expected to go on display in late 2016.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Smithsonian enlists 'Star Trek' fans to help restore the USS Enterprise
Researchers are seeking photos of the 11-foot model used in the classic television series as a benchmark for the restoration.