I was in New York City last week for a few days and was looking for a new museum to visit. I came across Spyscape and decided to give it a try. I had been to the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. and thought it was well done and had some very good interactives so I was skeptical that Spyscape could replicated it without just repeating it.
Within minutes of arrival I was blown away by their integration of technology, personalization and education. Upon arrival, you receive an RFID wrist band that tracks you progress through the space and keeps tabs on how you do with challenges, puzzles and quizzes in an effort to build you spy profile.
Once you have completed all the interactive tasks (which include detecting lies, a dexterity challenge, and cryptography), the debrief area builds your spy profile to show you where you’d fit within an intelligence agency. And the data isn’t fluff, it is based on tests and process used by British Intelligence to assess candidates.
It all starts with an immersive elevator ride (the largest passenger lift in the world) about how intelligence has changed to keep tabs with the explosion of data in the information age (unlike the International Spy Museum’s concentration on history, Spyscape looks more at the present and future of intelligence gathering and uses past examples as reference points). Here’s a film from the producers of the elevator interaction.
Once on the second floor, there are eight challenges that can be taken at any of the totems throughout the space and other interactives that correlate to the different aspects of intelligence gathering. For example, the room below is a 360-degree projection of surveillance cameras and you tap your ID badge and then grab a set of headphones and are guided through a surveillance challenge where you have to identify certain elements on certain cameras in order to complete the task.
The museum isn’t huge, so you only need a couple hours to engage in all the interactives, and maybe another hour if you want to read all the details on the static exhibits. And it is time and money well spent. This museum points to way to the future with its use of interactivity that makes you a participant as opposed to a viewer. Pro-tip - order tickets online and save five bucks.