The latest chapter in the ongoing, ill-fated saga of Santa Monica’s Sci-Fi Museum seems like it might be the last, certainly for a while at least.

The fate of the museum was confirmed in the last City Council meeting when a man named Aubrey West approached the podium during public comment on non-agenda items. In a prepared statement, he said:

“I’m Aubrey West from Sci-Fi World. I appeared before you last year when we were acquiring the space at 302 Colorado. We were — after a lot of setbacks — we were slated to open our museum experience next month, but the building owners, Seritage, have decided, in their wisdom, not to renew our lease on the building at 302 Colorado.”

“So unfortunately, we’re going to have to move to a new location. I wanted to thank all of you who were so supportive of us here and during this process, city, police, fire and we’ll see where the project goes from here. We appreciate your help and thank you for your time.”

The saga began back in August 2011, three Star Trek fans were able to rescue a replica USS Enterprise bridge from Star Trek: The Next Generation before it was taken away from a warehouse in Long Beach to be trashed. It was built for the Las Vegas installation, Star Trek: The Experience, which was closed in 2008 after a successful 10-year run.

Not long after, one of the three, a Star Trek superfan named Floyd Huston Huddleston, announced an ambitious crowdfunding campaign to raise “$175,000 to bring the bridge to life — complete with a viewscreen, the captain’s chair, and even operational touchscreen computers.” Apart from the captain’s chair, none of that ever came close to happening. Ten years later, the bridge was still the same taudry little collection of over-used, under-tended junk that it was when Huddleston acquired it, making the rounds at conventions as a sad photo op booth.

Two years later, in 2014, Huddleston announced additional fundraising for an ambitious museum that would become the permanent home of the legendary Star Trek bridge, plus a host of other iconic science fiction and horror film sets, props and related memorabilia. They had been accepting donations from fans for years.

Then in March, 2018, Huddleston was arrested in Southern California on child pornography and other related felony charges after a five-year FBI investigation. Huddleston originally pleaded not guilty. Needless to say, volunteers and board members abandoned ship and resigned in protest.

Following a jury trial in June 2018, it was revealed that Huddleston withdrew his “not guilty” plea on the charge of possessing pornography produced with the use of a person under 18 and instead entered a plea of “no contest.” He was found guilty, convicted and placed on a three year probation. He was ordered to serve 126 days in a Los Angeles county jail, pay a total of $520 in fines and complete a 52-week sex offender counseling program. Huddleston was also registered as a sex offender.

After all of this, it was unclear what Huddleston’s level of involvement with the project was. Huddleston knew that “any association with the museum after his conviction would be toxic for an organization that hopes to attract young fans, so he gave up control of the nonprofit and its collection of film and TV ephemera to the museum’s chief executive,” but 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. The Sci-Fi Museum has been lying to the public for years.

To top everything off, the restored Enterprise bridge is not even assembled inside the Sci-Fi World museum. The organization announced that Santa Monica city inspectors, together with the owners of the building, will not issue a permit allowing it to be displayed because the ceiling is not equipped with sprinklers, thus creating a fire hazard. Paramount had also issued a cease and desist order, saying that Huddleston had not procured the proper licensing to use the bridge set in a commercial venue. The centerpiece of the museum was never going to happen.

The “red carpet” was a small scrap of material placed next to the outdoor toilets and the food and beverages on offer consisted of Buca di Beppo self-served from a tin tray and discount soda.

A spokesperson from the organization said in an email to the Daily Press regarding the decision by Seritage to not renew their lease, “Sadly that is the case, but we are trying our best to fight it. They gave us no reason, and as of mid-May, they said they would renew our lease for another six months, then changed their minds.

“It’s really sad and has caused us all a lot of stress, but all we can do is our best and to keep fighting, because this is something so many people really want.”

It’s entirely possible that Seritage got wind of Huddleston’s child pornography conviction, and the public deception about who was actually in charge of the museum, and decided not to re-up the lease. They were under no legal obligation to stay in the relationship, and they apparently chose the better part of valor.

SCIFI Radio Staff
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