Spy secrets, espionage at the Franklin Institute

PHILADELPHIA - May 30, 2013

The Bible includes an account thousands of years old in which its practitioners visited a member of the oldest profession!

Over the centuries, spies have always relied on personal stealth but also on whatever technology gave them.

You can experience it all in "Spy - The Secret World of Espionage", now through October 6 at he Franklin Institute.

Many of the artifacts on display are on loan from the CIA, which housed them in a museum not open to the general public.

Some things, like cameras mounted on homing pigeons, will seem odd to you. Others made in the old Soviet Union will look unsophisticated by comparison to today.

Still others will be something of an eye-opener, .bugs mounted in shoes, miniaturized recording devices, and other means of gathering information. Whether these things are good or bad depends on who used them, and your opinion of them in human history.

As the exhibit unfolds, you also get a sense of what it's like to pursue and catch spies. This exhibit probably has more devices than most you've seen. But it's a good fit at the Franklin Institute, exploring the science of espionage from its inception to today.

You'll also come away with an enhanced sense of how important it is to protect yourself. By the way, espionage is not strictly a military or government pursuit.

Industry uses spies to keep an eye on the competition. One local corporation Action News visited in recent years was glad to show us some of the devices they used to develop their products, but wouldn't show us anything in the room where the devices were used.

Officials feared a former employee would recognize the surroundings and know where to focus spy devices. At the end of your visit, there's a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs, including stealthy-looking devices you can use to amaze your friends. This is a time-ticketed, extra-cost exhibit. You can learn more and buy tickets online at the Franklin Institute.

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