Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a real spy? This summer at the Franklin Institute, you can finally find out. Go beyond 007 and explore the fascinating world of real life spies at its new exhibit, “SPY: The Secret World of Espionage.” In this exciting spy experience, you can learn the true importance of intelligence gathering and how real spies help to change the world every day.
Did you know that Philadelphia played a big part in the history of intelligence gathering? In a recent interview with the South Jersey Times, Franklin Institute CEO Dennis Wint called Philly a “hotbed of intrigue and intelligence,” pointing out that Benjamin Franklin himself helped found the American Intelligence Council, the predecessor to the CIA.
The Franklin Institute’s SPY exhibit features over 200 historical artifacts and the incredible stories behind them, from the CIA, FBI, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the immense private collection of intelligence historian H. Keith Melton. A few of these intriguing artifacts include a collapsible motorbike, a two-man submersible, a fake firefly and a robotic catfish. You can even experience the spy life for yourself through disguises, voice alteration, navigating a field of laser beams and more.
Former senior FBI special agent Jerry Richards visited the SPY exhibit and remarked on many of the artifacts. He recalled the various concealed items he often discovered, including documents, cameras and weapons concealed in everyday travel items like toothpaste. The strangest concealment he ever found was a foot-tall statue which could only be opened after holding it upside down for 45 seconds. The SPY exhibit features a display of shoes with items concealed in their heals, a toy with a hidden compartment and even hollowed-out fake teeth.
The SPY exhibit runs from now until October 6. The hours are Sunday to Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Daytime admission (including general admission to the museum) is $28 for adults and $19 for children aged 3-11. Evening admission (SPY exhibit only) is $18 for adults and $13 for children aged 3-11. Evening hours are Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
SPY: The Secret World of Espionage
The Franklin Insitute
222 N 20th St, Center City