Friday, June 29, 2012

Discovery Times Square: Spy - The Secret World of Espionage

The entrance to the Discovery Times Square on 44th Street.
Many will be interested in the spy devices such a hollowed
tooth used as a container; a pair of shoes bugged with a listening device in the
heel; hollow nickels with poisoned needles; bricks used to conceal documents
and currency; and a CIA pigeon camera.
(photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
I decided to make an afternoon of the Discovery Times Square by visiting the other of the two current exhibits. Called Spy: The Secret World of Espionage, the exhibits claims that for the first time ever the world most famous espionage vault is opened and asks you to forget what you think you know about spies.

From movies to novels, this interactive new exhibit takes you beyond the fiction and Hollywood drama and puts you face to face with the fascinating truth behind the scenes. Encounter real stories and real gadgets finally revealed and gain insights into how intelligence really works.

Before going about the exhibit, I want to applaud this great addition to attractions in Times Square. Where Madame Tussaud's and Ripley's Believe It Or Not appear completely commercial, I like that Discovery Times Square serves a purpose that is in contrast to the far more "serious" museums of New York City. It's goal is "to create a home for traveling exhibitions that local museums might find either too large, too expensive, too nondisciplinary or too commercial for their non-profit attention". The focus on the one or two current exhibits is also less overwhelming than the vast collections at major institutions.

In addition if you find that the two exhibits at Discovery Times Square peaks your interests go ahead a buy a combo ticket where you pay one discounted price to see both. Since the admission prices vary according to each exhibition, the discount can be between five to ten dollars.

The kid in me did enjoy navigating a field laser beams but the fun is over before you know it. Though their are lots of spy gadgets, your interest in the displays will depend on your awareness or knowledge of the historical events to which they are associated. Here are some highlights:

Hollywood Cover Story: The CIA team conducted its rescue operation under
the cover story that it was a film crew scouting locations in Iran for an
upcoming movie. To build the cover, the CIA set up a dummy production
company in Hollywood, purchased a script and printed fake production
materials (Collection from CIA Museum).

Above two photos: Improvised Explosive Device (Forensic Replica). Within
weeks of Pan Am Disaster 103 disaster, British investigators found traces of
Semtex explosive on pieces of a Toshiba BomBeat radio-cassett player
recovered from the wreckage. Tests confirmed that an improvised explosive
devise inside the radio had blown a hold in the planes fuselage. 
One of the most notorious murder weapons in modern history: the ice-pick that
killed Leon Trotsky in 1937. Trotsky, considered a threat to the Soviet state,
lived four days after the initial blow.
Enigma: During World War II, the German military and intelligence services
used Enigma cipher machines to create what they thought were unbreakable
messages. The Enigma offered 150,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or 150
quintillion) possible solutions to any one enciphered message. Yet the
Allies were often able to find the right solution and read German secrets. In
doing so, they created the world's first electronic computer, Colossus. This
intelligence coup shortened the war by an estimated two years. 
"Checkpoint Charlie" Flag and Berlin Wall Remnant: This is one of the last
American flags to fly over "Checkpoint Charlie," the most famous Cold War
border crossing between East and West Berlin. Built into the Berlin Wall, the
checkpoint stood as a symbol of the conflict between the capitalist Free World
and the communist Soviet Bloc. It was closed in 1990, the year after the Wall
came down. The piece of the Berlin Wall came from the American Sector in the
former German capital The accessible part of the wall that faced west was often
decorated in vivid colors, while the eastern face, set in a deadly no-man's land,
was literally colorless.
"Charlie": This remote-controlled robotic catfish was spawned in the CIA's
Directorate of Science and Technology. The goal was to explore the use of
unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) for aquatic missions. "Charlie" swims
in a realistic manner thanks to a pressure hull and ballast system in its body
and a propulsion system in its tail.
Visit for more information. Discovery Times Square is located at 226 West 44th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenues in Manhattan, New York City. Tickets priced at $19.50-$27. Hours: Sun-Thu 10am-8pm; Fri and Sat 10am-9pm. Photo texts from Discovery Times Square.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...