Spyscape: Oh so very much worth the visit…

By Ingrid Wilkes February 7, 2024

In the world of espionage, there are many roles to be played. Spies don’t work alone. There is a support network with handlers, field agents, cryptologists and special ops. Find out which role your little one might be suited for at the incredible Spyscape Museum in mid-town Manhattan. It’s very cliché to say that the experience delights both young and old, but it’s true! This interactive experience has something for everyone. Did I mention lasers? Yup, it’s got lasers alright.

You may have heard about this museum and thought that it might be fun, but haven’t had the time to look into it yet. It opened in 2018 on 8th Avenue (cross street is West 55th) and occupies three floors. It is oh so very much worth the visit! The attention to detail is obvious and the museum’s atmosphere is perfectly sculpted from dark grey and black matte finishes to stainless steel information kiosks, sinister lighting and smoked glass windows and doors.

The museum’s creator worked closely with advisors from intelligence agencies, hackers and professional storytellers who have created an immersive space for both you and your young ones to learn about:

  • encryption (they’ve got WWII German Enigma machines)
  • surveillance (with an interactive headset challenge)
  • deception (lie detector training)
  • hacking (don’t worry, you won’t get a computer virus on your visit)
  • history (cold war and post-war counter-intelligence and threats)

There are multiple kiosk stations along the path between the exhibits where you can tap your wristband identifier and take short tests. These are used to fill out your Spyscape profile so that by the time you reach the end of the experience and are de-briefed, your strengths and weaknesses have been calculated and your suggested role in the world of spy vs. spy is revealed. This museum is very hands-on which is what makes it so engaging, but it also provides just enough text and description to deliver a story worth remembering. When I checked last, it rated 4.5 stars on Yelp out of 200+ reviews.

My husband and I booked a group visit for our son’s 7th birthday. We invited several of his friends, but also made sure to mention that parents (and care-givers) were also welcome and encouraged to join. We planned it for after school during the week, meeting for a bite to eat first before traveling to the museum for a 4:30 pm admission. It’s reachable via public transportation, but I won’t trouble you with the details since I’m sure you can figure that part out on your own. 😉

If you want to plan a group visit, make sure to collect the name and email address of each spy-in-training beforehand as this is essential to receiving your spy profile. There are combination lockers on the ground floor behind the entrance where you can store your school backpack and other personal items. While the museum recommends ages 8 and up I can attest to the fact that 7 year olds also find the experience very cool (I already mentioned the lasers, yes?).

After your de-brief, you find yourself in the café and gift shop. The collection of items is actually very well curated and includes some fun spy gadgets and other items that you won’t find anywhere else. You can “pre-shop” the offerings on-line by visiting the Spyscape Shop.

Part of the museum is used to host traveling exhibits. At the moment, there is a James Bond experience (not included in the price of admission for the Spyscape Museum) which features the iconic Aston Martin DB5 and gadgets from Q’s lab. We did not have time to include this in our trip to the museum, but it looks like it would be interesting for someone who has seen most of the James Bond movies and would enjoy getting up close to some of the exhibit collection.

Hopefully, I’ve given you enough of a sneak peek that you’re going to plan a visit (but without giving away too much of the surprise that awaits you).

Spyscape opening hours are weekdays 10 am - 9 pm and weekends 9 am - 9 pm.

  • General Admission: $39 adults, $32 children
  • 007xSPYSCAPE Exhibit: $23 adults, $18 children
  • Birthday Party package: $1,875 for up to twenty-five people and includes food, drinks, birthday present and private party area
  • Team-building package: $875 for up to sixteen people and includes drinks and a quiz in the VIP Room

Ingrid Wilkes is a mother of two children aged 10 and 7 who has worked in the sports and fitness industry since 1990. She has lived and worked in Southeast Asia, Europe and the US and enjoys trying new trends and exploring healthy alternatives to mainstream eating habits. She graduated from the University of San Francisco with a master’s degree in sports management and has taught spinning for several years as a way to balance her interest in marketing and communications.

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