Have you ever wanted to become a spy? Well Manhattan’s SPYSCAPE is just the place for you to unleash your inner James Bond.
“SPYSCAPE opened in February 2018 and it was started by an investment group out of London that was looking to provide some great entertainment venues and was interested in the spy genre,” said General Manager of SPYSCAPE Ian Oldaker. “They worked with a group of advisors, ex-spies and some exhibition designers as well as other types of artists like digital artists, and they put together the content and the challenges that make up the actual profiling system, which is the heart of the experience.”
The experience of SPYSCAPE is a journey of self-discovery through the lens of spying and is unlike a traditional museum where artifacts lead the narration.
“Here, the story that you discover about yourself is the experience and is what leads you through the different galleries,” explained Oldaker. “There are seven galleries and each gallery has two things. One is a true spy story tied to a specific theme, so each gallery theme is a type of spy skill. One gallery might be about encryption and the other might be about deception. We have galleries about special operations and surveillance too.”
Four out of the seven galleries have specific challenges on digital platforms that are tied to different spy skills to measure one’s ability.
“In encryption, you have a challenge where your ability to decipher codes is put to the test,” said Oldaker. “The same thing in surveillance. We also have a lie detector in our deception challenge. So those skills put together a score, which contribute to a profile, which is compared to actual spies and spy recruits and how they’re measured
at real spy agencies.”
Real spy agencies take their recruits, figure out their skills and aim them in a specific direction of work. At SPYSCAPE, they do same thing and tell museum-goers what their skills would align them with if they were to be chosen as a real spy.
“You could be an intelligence operative or a spy master or an agent handler,” said Oldaker.
According to Oldaker, the favorite gallery amongst everyone is the special operations gallery because of the laser tunnels that test one’s agility.
“If you recall some movies like Entrapment or Ocean’s 12 where they’re going in and around lasers to get to a specific thing, we do a little bit of a similar thing,” said Oldaker. “You’re basically scoring yourself as you go through lasers. It’s great fun for groups because they challenge each other individually when they go together.”
SPYSCAPE has a traditional museum display that exhibits a lot of spy tools as well in its Cabinet of Curiosity.
“We have everything from a nickel that’s hollowed out from a compass and all these different spy gadgets that were actual artifacts,” said Oldaker. “They were developed and used in real time in real situations, so there’s a lot of those that I really like.”
Recently, SPYSCAPE opened its first temporary exhibition about James Bond.
“It’s about the DB5, which is the beautiful Aston Martin car that is featured in many of the Bond movies and is part of the imagery of the Bond franchise,” said Oldaker. “[The exhibit is about] how that car is sort of developed in a lot of Bond films. It’s a great exhibition and it will only be here probably through the end of the year. It’s a great opportunity to add on to the experience for people.”
SPYSCAPE is located at 928 8th Ave., in Manhattan. For more information and for tickets, visit spyscape.com.