Even though I have lived in New York for over 10 years, I am still discovering more and more places to visit. A couple of weeks ago, I took my kids to see SPY: The Secret World of Espionage at Discovery Times Square. I can honestly say this is an exhibit where the entire family can learn “new tricks”.
During my trip to Discovery Times Square to check out the spy exhibit, I felt as though I was on the movie set of a James Bond film. I couldn’t believe the array of items from the CIA, FBI, and the NRO, and H. Keith Melton, the renowned author, historian, and international authority on spy technology on display. It was a good thing they were under case and key because my kids were very intrigued and interested in touching them. These items are the real deal, gadgets and artifacts from spies and spy catchers. We had a peak into real spy technologies!
Something else that I found fascinating about SPY’s extensive collection of espionage-related artifacts is that it is both historic and contemporary. This is a true treat for those fascinated by what goes into the world of espionage. Many of the artifacts on display at SPY come straight from the unparalleled 10,000-plus personal artifact collection of H. Keith Melton, author of several books on the subject, including the best-selling The Ultimate Spy and the forthcoming Spy’s Guide to New York City. The remaining artifacts come straight from the collections of some of the world’s leading intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the FBI and the NRO. There has never been a shortage of intrigue in the world of spies, and the artifacts and interactives in SPY vividly tell their stories, past and present, through actual tools, technologies, and testimonials.
Among the extraordinarily rare items are:
- Charlie the Catfish, one of two CIA Robotic Catfish
- Sleeping Beauty, the British WWII Two-Man Submersible
- Cockpit of the A-12 Oxcart Spy Plane, one of only nine remaining in world
- The photography bucket from a CORONA satellite
- KGB Pinhole Drill Kit, used to spy on the US Embassy in Russia
Of particular interest to local New Yorkers are the artifacts, video surveillance tapes, and other items from the collection of the FBI related to “Ghost Stories,” the infamous Anna Chapman Russian spy case that beguiled New Yorkers and, indeed, all Americans just two years ago. The case is arguably the most successfully foiled clandestine operation in contemporary American history, and visitors will see shocking, recently declassified surveillance videos of the undercover Russian spies in New York City, along with many of their personal belongings and tools.
But even before this case, the Big Apple has long been a hotbed of spy activity in the United States, making it the ideal location for the exhibition. To honor the world premiere of SPY in New York City, H. Keith Melton has published a new book entitled, Spy’s Guide to New York City, which takes readers through a tour of spy activities and their locations in the Big Apple.
In addition to the fascinating artifacts, SPY will allow visitors the unique opportunity to experience first-hand the technologies and tools utilized by intelligence agencies across the globe. Visitors will see and hear from real spies telling their personal stories, including Oleg Kalugin, the former head of KGB Counterintelligence in Washington.
What My Kids Thought
Even though my kids are on the younger side (7, 5, and 4), they really loved what it’s like to be a Spy first hand and even tested their spy skills by navigating their way through an actual laser field! They also loved creating their own disguises via an interactive computer display. There are plenty available so everybody got a turn at this fun activity.
More Information About Spy at Discovery Times Square
SPY opened on May 18, 2012 at Discovery Times Square, located at 226 West 44th Street. The interactive exhibition is open Sunday – Thursday, from 10 am – 8 pm, and Friday – Saturday, from 10 am – 9 pm, with the last allowed entry 45 minutes prior to closing each night.
Discovery Times Square
Discovery Times Square is New York City’s first large-scale exhibition center presenting visitors with limited-run, educational and immersive exhibit experiences while exploring the world’s defining cultures, art, history and events. More than a museum, DTS has featured a renowned line-up of exhibitions including Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Workshop, King Tut, Pompeii: The Exhibit, Harry Potter: The Exhibition, and most recently Dead Sea Scrolls: The Exhibition. DTS is located at 226 West 44th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenues).
Disclaimer: This was not a paid post. I did receive to tickets for me and my children to visit the exhibit. The opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.