Culture

Prepare Your Secret Handshake Because A KGB Spy Museum Has Just Opened In New York

Museums are wonderful places filled with history, culture and cats. But there’s a new museum on the block that’s more interested in uncovering the secret lives of spy boys than in celebrating very good boys.

The KGB Spy Museum in Manhattan explores the secrets and espionage operations of the Soviet secret police. It houses the world’s largest collection of KGB espionage artefacts and reveals the secret double lives that many agents lived.

In case you’re a bit rusty on your history (or haven’t any James Bond films lately) the KGB was the main security agency for the Soviet Union around the time of the Cold War. It was basically the USSR’s answer to the CIA, and shrouded in just as much mystery, even after it was shut down in 1991. The spy museum will put many of those items on display to the public for the first time.

In pop culture, the KGB is known for its elaborate gadgets and clandestine activities. Many of the items in the museum’s collection seem like they’re pulled straight from the movies: a camera set into a signet ring, phones with voice modulators and cipher devices similar to the Enigma machines.

Also on display are classic spy weapons like the pistol designed to look like lipstick and an umbrella that was used to inject a small dose of poison into an unsuspecting victim.

The collection spans 3,500 authentic items and was curated by Julius Urbaitis over 30 years of research around the world. It uncovers the secret lives of real KGB agents and the journalists who discovered their true identities, and reveals some of the mystery that the Russian intelligence agency is still shrouded in to this day.

Keeping on theme, look out for these secret bars when you visit New York City.

(All images unless otherwise noted: KGB Spy Museum)