National Constitution Center Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs Review
National Constitution Center – Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs – Hours, Admissions and Pricing
There is no unique pricing for tickets for Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs. You pay your flat admission fee, which grants you access not only to Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs, but to the rest of the National Constitution Center's remarkable displays and exhibits. We would recommend that you budget a full day for this exhibit, especially since the permanent exhibits are well worth visiting as well.
Adults – $15
Seniors ages 65 and up, and Students – $14
Children, ages 4 to 12 – $11
The Story Of We the People which includes the live presentation of "Freedom Rising"
National Constitution Center – Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs.
Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs is the latest of the stunning, blockbuster temporary exhibits at the National Constitution Center. Originally scheduled to run from March 4, 2011 through Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, it has proven so popular That the National Constitution Center has decided to extend it for nearly three more months! Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs will now be open to visitors through August 21, 2011.
The National Constitution Center is the final stop of this traveling exhibit, which was created by the International Spy Museum in the Washington, DC area. Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs began its odyssey in early 2006 and after crisscrossing the nation, the National Constitution Center is the 11th and final host institution. This was fortunate, because the National Constitution Center was able to extend the run for over two and half more months, since Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs did not have a commitment to travel to a subsequent city.
Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs – Please Exercise Discretion While in the Exhibit, Particularly If You Have Children.
There is one particular element in the exhibit, which is graphic in nature, both in terms of the visual display on the walls, the artifacts, and the movie. The section on Hate involves chilling photographs of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as masks under glass, and a movie with graphic footage. The National Constitution Center properly warns you, before entering that particular section, that viewer discretion is advised. So if you – as an adult – have sensitivities to graphic subject matter – and especially if you have children – we'd highly recommend that you spend your time in Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs, perusing the other 95% of the exhibit, which is highly educational and entertaining, and skip the Ku Klux Klan.
Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs – The Music, Ambience and Visual Display
From the instant you walk in the door, you immediately realize the National Constitution Center has created an incredibly effective atmosphere of intrigue suspicion and apprehension for the visitor.
When you arrive at the National Constitution Center, you won't be entering the first floor exhibit space, which traditionally hosts the temporary blockbuster exhibits, such as Ancient Rome and America in 2010. Instead, you head downstairs. You'll encounter a gentleman in a trenchcoat, dark glasses and Fedora, to greet you – and it's a great way to get you in the mood for espionage.
Moreover, the fact that you have to go downstairs contributes to the overall feeling of plotting and suspicion. Since you are, in a sense, going underground in both a literal and metaphorical sense, it reinforces the fact that you are heading somewhere laden with secrets, foreign agents, and dark mysterious forces at work. The exhibit itself is laid out tightly, and the slightly claustrophobic area heightens this effect.
If you are there with students, they will enjoy the "Top Secret Training Manual" handout which they will receive at the door. The handout resembles a Manila intelligence folder and is divided into six sections. Students are encouraged to answer the questions asked of them in the Training Manual, based on the exhibits and artifacts which they will be seeing.
Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs – The Exhibit Itself
Initially, the first thing you see when you walk into the exhibit, is a comprehensive timeline of dissenting and subversive activity, coupled with the government's response to the activity. This wall size timeline provides a superb overview and historical background for Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs.
We recommend that you follow the exhibit in chronological order. The first vignette focuses on the War of 1812, when British forces burned the public buildings in Washington, DC, including the White House and the U.S. Capitol. A charred wooden remnant of the White House – discovered by workmen in the 1950s – is on display under glass.
Orientation: The Wall Size Timeline
Initially, the first thing you see when you walk into the exhibit, is a comprehensive timeline of dissenting and subversive activity, coupled with the government's response to the activity. This wall size timeline provides a superb overview and historical background for Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs. It covers no fewer than 170 episodes in U.S. history, when national security was threatened within the homeland. Accordingly, we recommend that you follow the exhibit in chronological order.
Revolution: 1776 – 1890
The first vignette focuses on the War of 1812, when British forces burned the public buildings in Washington, DC, including the White House and the U.S. Capitol. The worst disaster ever to befall the nation's capital, the destruction took place on August 24, 1814 in just 26 hours. Pro-British Washingtonians helped to facilitate the attack, which took place during the administration of President James Madison. The war was deeply unpopular and was referred to scornfully, by its many critics, as "Mr. Madison's War".
The scene of a wrecked White House and Washington, DC in flames is very vivid. It also chronicles how resourceful First Lady Dolly Madison managed to save a cherished painting of George Washington, one of the nation's great treasures from the flames. A charred wooden remnant of the White House – discovered by workmen in the 1950s – is on display under glass.
Sabotage: 1914 – 1918
In perhaps the most interesting section, visitors are engulfed in the efforts of German agents, on behalf of Kaiser Wilhelm, to sabotage American industrial production during World War I. Although the U.S. had not yet officially entered the war, its munitions industries were vital to the success of the Allied Powers of Great Britain and France. Imperial German agents with the help of American collaborators successfully destroyed a New York City munitions depot.
Hate: 1865 – Present
Radicalism: 1917 – 1920
World War: 1935 – 1945
Subversion: 1945 – 1956
Protest: 1969 – 1976
Extremism: 1992 – Present
Terrorism: 1980 – Present
Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs concludes with the issues of the present day – namely, terrorism, both foreign and domestic. It addresses international organizations such as Al-Qaeda, and homegrown terrorists such as those who perpetrated the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. One particularly unnerving display is the opaque lair of the domestic terrorist. While he seems to have a perfectly respectable middle-class home at first glance, when you look more closely, you can see that his room is loaded with materials for homemade bombs, military fatigues, and ammunition.
Of all the artifacts on display, the most poignant are those from the attacks on September 11, 2001. With the 10th anniversary of the attacks approaching, the exhibit includes a piece of one of the two terrorist-commandeered commercial airliners, which crashed into the World Trade Center on that dreadful day. (We had always been under the impression that there was nothing left of the planes after the collapse of the towers, and were stunned to discover that any of the wreckage had survived.) Equally moving, is a stairwell sign indicating the 78th floor of one of the World Trade Center towers.
If you'd like to leave the National Constitution Center Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs and return to the Home Page of Enjoying Philadelphia, please click here.