New York may already be crammed to breaking point with culture and tourist attractions, but on Friday the city added another feather to its cap: Spyscape -- a new museum giving visitors a taste of life as a secret agent. (Spyscape Facebook/File)
New York may already be crammed to breaking point with culture and tourist attractions, but on Friday the city added another feather to its cap: Spyscape -- a new museum giving visitors a taste of life as a secret agent.
Part museum, part interactive installation, visitors can undergo a lie detector test, creep past laser beams and decode secret messages at a spanking new premises -- four years in the making -- close to Central Park.
A former British intelligence officer was recruited to help design the installation, says Spyscape chief of staff Shelby Prichard.
Rooms are devoted to major periods of espionage history, such as the British cracking of the Nazi Enigma code during World War II -- and the museum displays an original model of the so-called "bombe" designed by Alan Turing to help do so.
It also features documents related to US double agent Robert Hanssen, who passed secrets to the Soviets from 1979 to 2001, and US-born Virginia Hall who supported the French resistance during World War II.
The interactive exhibits give visitors the chance to test out their own espionage skills and pass through a series of challenges. "It's also a personal journey to discover your own inner spy," said Shelby Prichard.
He said the museum offers a more contemporary perspective than the International Spy Museum in Washington, with sections on hacking and cyber warfare.
"It's optimized for teens and adults, but we think that smart kids are really going to enjoy it too," the chief of staff said.