The Smithsonian Institution was a collection of museums and research organizations, many of which were located in the city of Washington, DC on Earth. It was initially formed in 1846 in the United States of America, for the "diffusion of knowledge amongst men."
Its collection included the Phoenix, the first Human warp ship. As a boy, Jean-Luc Picard had seen the warp ship at the institution hundreds of times, but had never been allowed to touch it before. (Star Trek: First Contact)
Background information Edit
Already recognizing the cultural significance of Gene Roddenberry's creation in 1967, the real-world Institution in a rare move – considering the highly contemporary nature of a television series of such recent date – , invited him that year to submit the original pilots of Star Trek: The Original Series, "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (the rare, original production variant, never seen again, aside from bootleg convention showings, after its submission to NBC at the tail-end of 1965, until the 2009 TOS Season 3 Blu-ray release), and assorted production material, such as still photography, scripts and story outlines, for save-keeping for posterity. This the consummate (self)promoter Roddenberry did in a formal presentation at the Institution, pursuant the end of the Original Series' first season, with the print materials showing up at the Star Trek Smithsonian Exhibit twenty-five years later. ("Smithsonian Seeks TV Pilot", Los Angeles Times, 13 June 1967, p. C19)
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum houses the original shooting model of the USS Enterprise from TV's original Star Trek series on the first floor of the National Mall building. The model was gifted to the museum by Paramount Television in 1974, alongside the the studio models of the D7-class and the Aurora (NC-17740). The models were placed in the Smithsonian as part of the Star Trek Smithsonian Exhibit which opened in 1992.
The Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center also previously held the space shuttle Enterprise, named for the Star Trek ship, and which also appears in the opening credits of Star Trek: Enterprise. In 2012, the Enterprise was transferred to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. The museum now has in its possession the space shuttle Discovery which is on active display.