David Adjaye’s Latest Project? A Museum Of Spycraft

The CIA. NSA. KGB. MI6. If you come across a secretive organization that has a foreboding, three-letter acronym, there’s a good chance it’s filled with spies. It’s unlikely any of us will ever lay eyes inside these covert organizations, by their very nature. But at Spyscape, a museum coming to Midtown Manhattan in January 2018, visitors will get a chance to see how espionage works–and even live a day in the life of a spy.

The museum will span 60,000 square feet of space designed by Adjaye Associates. According to It’s Nice That, the architecture is inspired by that of the world’s leading spy organizations. At the very least, it definitely fulfills our own Hollywood stereotypes: It’s moody. Cold. Dark. Cyphers float in plain sight. Even the signage is presented in broken fonts–forcing you to piece together the letters just to know where you’re going.

[Image: Adjaye Associates]
Meanwhile, the exhibits promise the interactive experience of actually being a spy. Can you defeat a polygraph test? Would you be a hacker, or what’s known in the business as a “handler?” Want to try your hand at surveillance? The museum’s $39 ticket will help you find out.

Frankly, it all sounds like a ton of fun, like the highbrow version of an escape room. Whether the museum leaves us feeling like James Bond or Edward Snowden is a question of political philosophy as much as design. And to be perfectly honest, it’s hard to know which of these adopted personas is the preferable outcome.