Learn your spy profile at Spyscape, NYC's espionage museum

- Three-hundred-sixty degrees of dozens of security feeds ring the walls of a dimly lit circular room on the second floor of a nondescript building on 8th Avenue in Manhattan. A female voice in one's headphones asks for locations of and observations on various people, vehicles, and objects displayed on the many feeds above.

"We worked for about two years with the former head of training for British intelligence to develop this spy-profiling system," said Shelby Prichard, the Spyscape chief of staff.

Dozens of Anonymous masks, many autographed by hackers in that group, hang inside New York City's first spy museum. Some of those hackers anonymously joined the team of consultants responsible for designing much of the museum.

"Former directors and station chiefs of major international agencies as well as top-level hackers," Prichard said.

Four years of conversations with retired FBI, KGB, CIA, and others curated more than 700 espionage-related titles in Spyscape's bookstore and led to Spyscape's seven different galleries — encryption, deception, surveillance, hacking, cyber warfare, special ops, and intelligence — each with its own interactive spy challenge.

Each challenge tells stories of real spies and displays artifacts from the world of espionage. Spyscape's encryption gallery displays one of around 100 remaining still-functioning enigma machines used by the Germans to encode messages during the second world war.

"We're not just teaching you about espionage," Prichard said. "We're teaching you about your own spy skills and aptitudes."

A Spyscape visitor's mission — should he or she choose to accept it  — includes a series of personality risk-assessment and intelligence tests in addition to those challenges all tracked by one's RFID bracelet so a final swipe to begin one's debrief and a tallying of one's scores allows the Spyscape supercomputer to assign every amateur spy who visits here their own personalized spy persona.

Prichard said spy agencies around the world have expressed a lot of interest in the project, experience, and museum.

"From the perspective of any ethical international spy agency, it's a good thing to be educating the public on the risks of espionage and hacking today," Prichard said.

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