Age: 8 and upwards
Completion time: 1 ½ – 2 hours
Concessions: up to 17
Highlights: Laser Maze, Spy Lab, Morse Station, Finding Bugs, Encoding Messages, Finding Microdots, Reconstructing Files
Our young visitors soon learn that secret agents existed even before the invention of the mobile telephone or Internet. State-of-the-art touchscreens with maps and pictures introduce them to the world of secret agents in the ancient and medieval times. They also love to gain a hands-on experience of spy craft using the Skytale or the cipher disc. One element which never fails to surprise our younger guests is the airborne agents hanging from the ceiling of our exhibition – pigeons carrying mini-cameras from 100 years ago – and which constitute the first drones. Another highlight is the practical introduction to Morse code, which gives children the opportunity to send and receive messages in those legendary dots and dashes.
Moving into the section on the Second World War, visitors are treated not only to the original Enigma cipher machines, developed and used by the Third Reich but a digital coding station, where they can test out its technology, encrypting messages until they are unrecognisable. This station also introduces visitors to two further secret ciphers and a password hacker – especially popular with younger guests – where the visitor can test how safe their passwords are. With just a little effort, you can develop a reliable password to use for a range of applications.
The technology used in espionage engages and enthuses children and parents alike. The German Spy Museum presents over 300 unique pieces of equipment used by spies ranging from pistols incorporated in pipes and lipstick holders, cameras secreted in cigarette lighters and watering cans, microphones nestling in books and shoe heels and secret compartments in chess sets and pictures.
Our hands-on exhibition focussing on the Cold War presents its visitors with a number of tasks to get them thinking and have some fun. Use a scanner to find listening devices hidden in an office; decrypt secret radio messages; look for microdots secreted on everyday objects under a microscope, and practice your lip-reading skills. The largest exhibit in the museum is a secret agent’s car: an East German Trabi with an in-built infrared flash and a hi-tech camera. Only the bravest children enter the spooky darkroom next to it to find out how the infrared technology works.
We have an entire section dedicated to the most famous secret agent of all time: James Bond. A range of original props and films draw the visitor into the glamorous world of 007.
Our secret agent’s laboratory provides our small guests with the opportunity to test secret inks and discover secret messages hidden on the wall. Kitted out with an apron and goggles, children feel like a real-life “Q”, the legendary inventor in the James Bond series. Would-be agents also need a certain degree of detective talent to complete our document puzzle – assemble torn documents to reveal their secrets. Disguises are a key part of all espionage – children can try on rain coats, hats, dark glasses and wigs to pose for the ultimate secret agent photograph.
Everyone has dreamt of being the hero and saving the world. Now you have your chance to see what it would be like in our laser maze. Navigate through the fiendishly difficult laser system to reach the abort button to stop the launch of enemy missiles, thereby saving civilization as we know it. You will have to be at your flexible and ingenious best not to come into contact with the laser beams. Try out the different difficulty levels and see what a day at the office for 007 is like.
The last section of the museum focuses on the present. Multimedia stations demonstrate in a hands-on fashion how the internet and social media gather and use our data. The digital Facebook puzzle game shows how the company collects data and matches it up to make a bigger picture. In our Big Data bowling alley children can create an avatar by throwing down various balls representing different characteristics and habits such as clothing, food or consumption. The deployment of every ball changes the digital footprint. Our hacker station show how you can manipulate internet pages and produce “fake news” – enter dad’s name in the place of Donald Trump.