Espionage tools from the cold war era are displayed at SPYSCAPE in New York. Visitors to a new attraction opening in New York City can learn about the elements of spying, its history and find out what kind of spy they could be. SPYSCAPE opens Friday. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

I, spy: New Manhattan attraction offers espionage history

  • Feb. 15, 2018 4:50 p.m.

NEW YORK — Hello, recruit. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Learn about the elements of spying, its history, and find out what kind of spy you could be.

That’s the order of the day at SPYSCAPE, a new attraction opening Friday in Manhattan, where visitors can get a glimpse of spying’s past and present, from the code-breaking machines of World War II to the most famous names in espionage and their deeds of derring-do or in some cases, dastardly deception.

Visitors can also take a series of tests that gauge everything from their powers of observation to their willingness to take risks, to see what spy role they’d be suited for. (Don’t worry, there’s no secret agency recruiting station at the exit.)

“People are going to come here and find out spies are actually like we are,” said Shelby Prichard, chief of staff at SPYSCAPE. “They’re probably the closest thing you can get to superheroes in the real world but they’re people. With training, with tools, definitely intelligence, but I think at the end of the day we’ll all discover we each have our own kinds of spy skills and aptitudes.”

The exhibition space is divided into different galleries. They focus on specific areas — encryption, deception, hacking, cyberwarfare, intelligence, surveillance and special ops.

In each of the galleries, visitors can see artifacts related to that area, like an actual Enigma machine used by the Germans to encrypt messages during World War II, or masks worn by members of the global hacking group Anonymous with some signed with the code name of the person who wore it.

In the surveillance section, part of the exhibition showcases how tools used by governments can also be used by other organizations, by incorporating material from The Associated Press’ Pulitzer Prize-winning expose , “Seafood from Slaves.” The stories traced how fish caught by slave labour in Southeast Asia ended up on American plates.

Reporting it involved using satellite technology to track a cargo ship that was moving the seafood caught by the enslaved men, as well as surveillance of the fish as it was offloaded and moved to other facilities. The exhibit at SPYSCAPE features the tools of the trade like a reporter’s notebook and laptop, as well as video from the journalists involved.

“We’re really focused on showing how every person uses spy skills in everyday life,” Prichard said.

The exhibits don’t just focus on the past, either — there’s a segment talking about messaging programs like WhatsApp, and how long messages on it will remain encrypted, as well as an area offering tips on how to limit your cyber exposure. An art exhibit is made up of video cameras representing some of the most well-known and widely used social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The interactive tests that visitors can take to build up their profiles are varied. In one section, they’re asked to answer logic puzzles to rate their IQ, while in the deception section they’re taught about different physical signs of lying and asked to determine whether someone being questioned is being truthful or not. In the surveillance section, they have a set amount of time to look at a range of screens and answer questions about what they’re seeing.

The most physical interactive is the Special Ops area, where people take a run through a laser beam maze, trying to hit targets along the way.

Several years in the making, SPYSCAPE’s advisers and consultants included former spies and members of intelligence agencies, as well as hackers-turned-security consultants.

Just Posted

Central Alberta school divisions to support rural students through agreement

Wolf Creek to bring Enhanced Learning Model courses to Clearview schools

WATCH: Red Deer Catholic students re-envision a local wetland for school project

Father Henri Voisin Grade 3 teacher introduces ‘real-life’-based education

Manslaughter charge stayed against Maskwacis man

Man was accused of manslaughter in connection with the death of his mother in 2015

Red Deer Mounties make numerous arrests over the past two weeks

Over the past two weeks, Red Deer RCMP have made a number… Continue reading

Leslieville Elks’ new hall rising from the ashes

Leslieville Elks Lodge grateful for outpouring of support

WATCH: Red Deer Catholic students re-envision a local wetland for school project

Father Henri Voisin Grade 3 teacher introduces ‘real-life’-based education

Charges dropped against Alberta property owner in rural shooting

OKOTOKS, Alta. — All charges have been dropped against a man accused… Continue reading

China blocks John Oliver on social media after scathing show

BEIJING — A popular Chinese social media site is censoring discussion of… Continue reading

Most Red Deer Advocate readers would call police when witnessing a crime

An overwhelming number of Advocate readers would call the police if they… Continue reading

So much TV, so little summer: Amy Adams, Kevin Hart, Dr. Pol

LOS ANGELES — The fall television season is months away but that’s… Continue reading

BlackBerry Q1 revenue, adjusted earnings beat estimates but stock falls

TORONTO — BlackBerry Ltd. shares sank almost 10 per cent to their… Continue reading

OPEC countries to pump more oil to contain price increase

VIENNA — The countries of the OPEC cartel agreed on Friday to… Continue reading

Man sentenced for Edson triple murder

EDMONTON — An Alberta man who fatally shot three people has been… Continue reading

‘Hot Dog Water’ seller in Vancouver gets laughs, sales with savvy marketing

VANCOUVER — A Vancouver man who sold bottles of “Hot Dog Water”… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month