I Went to Spyscape & Discovered My Inner Spy

When I was a very young child, I longed to be a spy. I watched everything spy-related suitable for children you could think of and pictured myself in an all-black outfit scaling a building and talking through a hidden microphone; I aspired to be like Kim Possible. The Spyscape museum in Manhattan recently helped me to turn that childhood dream into a (somewhat) reality. As a young child, I would’ve given anything for a museum like this to have existed. (Unfortunately, Spyscape did not exist until 2018.)

The museum is not, however, intended for children - it’s meant for adults. To me, that made it all the more fun because the sights and activities were far from trivial. Going through this museum, I got to see what it would be like to be a real spy (even better than Kim Possible). The exhibits somehow manage to gracefully mix together legit spy history and fun interactive activities, which makes for a unique experience.

Price

General admission is $39, which I didn’t find to be too terrible considering the immersive experience it gave me that lasted about an hour and a half. The gift shop, however, is where I ended up turning my wallet inside out for cash (more on this to come). There also is a student discount valid during certain days and hours where the purchase of a regular ticket gets you a student ticket for free (using your valid student ID).

The history

I never realized just how intricate spy history is; since spies were involved in both World Wars and many other global crises, spies are actually a very important part of history. Going through the museum, I remarked to my friend that spy history is expansive enough to be a class at Barnard. I was not once bored as I went through each section; there were various blurbs, pieces of machinery, and biographies to keep me consistently surprised and entertained. I really loved the focus on women involved - I find that women are often omitted from history, and this museum emphasized their presence.

The interactive activities

Besides learning about the cool history of spies, the aim of the museum is to show you what kind of spy you would be. As such, there are various interactive activities stationed throughout the museum to collect information about your personality and test your skills, such as those of logic and agility; I was very impressed and the child in me was pleased. I also liked that the activities were realistic to what spies actually do or get tested on, such as cracking codes and catching liars.

The end

At the end of the exhibits, you are finally told what kind of spy would you be. You’re given details of the position on the spot and are also emailed the results. Later on, you’ll find that the gift shop has items specifically geared towards your job match.

The gift shop

I could’ve spent hours going through that gift shop in awe. The spy-related items they have there are just insane - from invisible ink pens to items with hidden storage to security cameras, they have it all. Owning many of the items there, one feels like a true spy. All of these unique gadgets are in addition to your usual gift shop shirts and mugs (which I also thought were amazing).

Concluding thoughts

To conclude, I was absolutely stunned by this museum. As someone who had previously been obsessed with anything and everything spy-related, my expectations were definitely very high; this museum not only met them, but exceeded them. I would highly recommend this museum to anyone with even the slightest interest in spies. Although I had previously researched the museum before going, I found that the experience still surprised me - I learned more than I thought I’d have the opportunity to while at the same time being entertained. I am now satisfied having discovered my inner spy, and consequently emptying my bank account at the awesome gift shop. I did, however, leave with a little fear - if you walk away with one piece of lingering knowledge from this museum, it’s that the government is literally always watching; I will leave you on that note…