Sci-Fi World, a new museum boasting real and replica props, costumes, and sets from beloved films and TV shows, had its opening gala on Memorial Day in the parking lot of the historic former Sears building near the Santa Monica Pier. Despite years of anticipation and preparation, they somehow managed to screw up the gala opening, which happened in the parking lot instead of the building itself due to a failure to procure the proper permits. This goes along with news that the museum itself is not even remotely ready to open.

This museum has been more than a decade in the making, drawing “Star Trek” fans globally with its compelling backstory. Huston Huddleston claimed he saved a replica of the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” bridge from a discard pile in Long Beach back in 2011. Huddleston, a die-hard sci-fi and horror fan, launched Kickstarter campaigns to restore the prop and open a museum, raising nearly $163,000 in less than two years. It turned out later that it was not a screen used bridge set as most had assumed, but rather a discarded publicity touring bridge set, originally used at the Las Vegas Star Trek: The Experience installation.

However, Huddleston, 54, is now at the center of controversies surrounding the museum. Despite the recent gala, the museum did not open as scheduled. In 2018, Huddleston was convicted of misdemeanor possession of child pornography. He served 126 days in jail, three years of probation, completed 52 weeks of sex offender counseling, and paid fines.

Huston Huddleston, founder of the Museum and convicted of child pornography, from 2015

Huddleston told reporters that he knew his continued association with the museum would be harmful, so he handed control of the nonprofit and its collection to the museum’s chief executive. Yet, several volunteers insist that Huddleston is still deeply involved. Lee Grimwade, a lead volunteer who resigned just before the gala, said Huddleston is “definitely 100% involved.”

“He’s the idea guy who is laying it all out. He’s telling you where he wants things, where the walls should go, where to set up the cameras,” Grimwade said. He spent almost every day for the last month setting up the museum and showed reporters photographs of Huddleston onsite. “He’s basically directing the entire thing.”

Concerns about museum leadership spiked with the recent resignations of Chief Executive John Purdy and General Manager Cory Dacy. Purdy wrote that he left due to a violation by Huddleston of their contractual agreement. Purdy admitted that all his actions were approved by Huddleston in his role as President of the Foundation. Dacy, misled about Huddleston’s involvement, confirmed that Huddleston was regularly onsite.

Notably, “Star Trek” producer Ronald D. Moore and writer Larry Nemecek, listed as board members in a 2022 tax filing, are not involved. Moore has never been a part of the organization, and Nemecek resigned in 2015. reached out to David Gerrold and Doug Drexler, also listed as being on the board of directors in the 20222 tax filing. Gerrold resigned 11 years ago, and Drexler never signed the paperwork in the first place. The Museum has been lying about their participation for a very long time.

CBS Studios, which produces “Star Trek” series, has issued a cease and desist letter to Huddleston and Purdy, stating they do not have the right to re-create “Star Trek” elements for commercial use. The studio believed the original set pieces were destroyed due to severe damage.

Huddleston claims his involvement is minimal and limited to assembling tricky props. He said the museum’s delayed opening is due to permitting issues, and he hasn’t been part of early city code discussions. Despite his claim of stepping aside, Huddleston remains connected to the museum’s security cameras, which feed directly to his phone, a temporary measure until a new GM is hired. The Sci-Fi Museum claims that Huddleston is no longer on the board of directors, but this claim is in conflict with the fact that both Huddleston and his mother were listed on the organization’s official IRS tax forms as recently as their 2022 filing, as confirmed by Huston Huddleston himself was listed as President, his mother as VP/Treasurer, and Aubrey West as secretary.

Dacy resigned partly because the museum was not ready to open, describing the handling as “haphazard.” The museum is selling annual memberships for $70, yet its setup seems more like a pop-up than a permanent institution.

This isn’t even the first round of resignations. The first round happened in 2018 when board members discovered that Huddleston was not “out of town” as they had been told, but actually in jail, convicted of possession of child pornography (he used the “I’m shocked, I don’t know how these pictures got on my computer” defense).

Huddleston has a history of presenting parts of the bridge at conventions, collecting donations. The restored bridge isn’t fully assembled at the museum due to fire safety concerns, but some parts will be on display.

Tickets for the gala, priced at $200 to $400, sold despite the last-minute change to a parking lot event. Attendees like Bradley Clifton, who flew from Kentucky, were disappointed by the setup, which included a red carpet near portable toilets and a self-serve table of pasta and off-brand soda.

The spacecraft from 2013’s Oblivion, shown here in the Sci-Fi Museum. Note the sparce contents compared to the immense room.

Actress Olivia Youngers, who volunteered in 2014, withdrew support after uncomfortable exchanges with Huddleston and learning of his conviction. “He would frequently comment on my age and how young I looked, and that unnerved me,” she said.

Podcaster Bill Smith contributed to Huddleston’s Kickstarter and featured him on his show. Alarmed by the museum’s update, he contacted them, only to receive misleading responses about Huddleston’s involvement.

Kasey Shafsky, associated with “Star Trek Continues,” questioned the museum’s claims on social media, finding discrepancies in their public statements and tax forms.

Huddleston’s legal troubles began in 2013 with an FBI “knock and talk” after a volunteer reported finding questionable material in his messages. Huddleston admitted to communicating with minors and asking for nude photos. Though he claimed the illegal images on his hard drive were planted, he accepted a plea deal to avoid registering as a sex offender.

Former volunteer Jessika Lange, a paralegal, discovered Huddleston was in jail after he couldn’t be reached. Volunteers quit, and some have since tracked his social media, noting his ongoing involvement with the museum.

The story of Sci-Fi World and its troubled leadership casts a shadow over what could have been a celebration of sci-fi fandom. Many fans and volunteers feel betrayed, seeing their passion used for personal gain. As the museum’s future hangs in the balance, the community watches closely, hoping for transparency and change.

Gene Turnbow
Gene Turnbow

President of Krypton Media Group, Inc., radio personality and station manager of Part writer, part animator, part musician, part illustrator, part programmer, part entrepreneur – all geek.