NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Anyone who’s watched a James Bond film knows about spy gadgets. While most were complete works of fiction, some were based in reality.
Now, some of that real-life spy gear is on display at a new museum in Manhattan.
In the history of spy organizations, none have earned a more mythical status than Russia’s KGB.
“People have heard a lot of stories about the Cold War period, but they haven’t seen any of the items and devices they were using,” KGB spy museum curator Agne Urbaityte said.
Web Extra: A Closer Look At The KGB’s Tools
For three decades a father and daughter duo collected more than 3,500 rare pieces displayed in public for the first time.
The museum boasts the most expansive collection of real bugs and micro cameras.
“This looks like a typical lipstick case, but it is deadly?” CBS2’s Steve Overmyer said while examining a seemingly harmless museum item.
“It’s meant for female spies during the Cold War. It is a single shot, deadly shot weapon,” Urbaityte explained.
During the Cold War’s early days in the 1950’s, every major nation had a spy agency. The Soviet Union created the most sophisticated operation. Sometimes that meant shrinking technology to virtually undetectable sizes.
“You put the ring on your finger. The film goes around the finger and you have five shots,” the curator said about a miniaturized ring camera.
“These days it was hard getting information. Nowadays we give information for free. You pick up your phone, you’re giving information.”
The KGB was notorious for using a combination of state-of-the-art tools and ruthless methods. Even an umbrella could be more than it seemed.
“When you press a button here, you have a needle here. That needle shoots a shot of ricin poison.”
It’s a mixture of cool gadgets and grim weapons leaving you with a bit of anxiety, but a revealing look at the history of real life espionage.