Mar 7, 2024 - Things to Do

Uncover James Bond spy gadgets at new Chicago exhibit

Ashton Martin with a screen playing a James Bond film.

Photo: Carrie Shepherd/Axios

Aston Martins, jet packs, sniper cameras and gadgets used by the world's most famous fictional spy are on display at a Museum of Science and Industry exhibit that opens today.

Why it matters: The "007 Science" exhibit gives museumgoers a glimpse into the science behind the gadgets used in James Bond films, some of which became early prototypes of real-world spying tools.

Fun fact: The exhibit includes items borrowed from the International Spy Museum, like a camera used by the KGB. Also on display: the gun from "The Man with the Golden Gun," in which the barrel is a fountain pen, the hand grip is a cigarette case and the trigger is a cufflink.

Behind the scenes: Meg Simmonds, an archivist for the Bond films, tells Axios that real spy agencies even contacted art directors on Bond films to get the designs of some of the Hollywood gadgets, like an underwater breathing contraption worn by Sean Connery in "Thunderball."

Silver car on a pedestal surrounded by screens.
Photo courtesy of Museum of Science and Industry.

What they're saying: "When you're looking at Bond movies, when you see some fanciful idea … it could be a real thing," curator Kathleen McCarthy tells Axios.

  • "What we want is for people to leave to be inspired to see their world in a different, new, creative, resourceful way."

What's next: "007 Science: Inventing the World of James Bond" runs through Oct. 27.

Drawing of a robotic metal contraption and a mannequin wearing it.
Photo courtesy of Museum of Science and Industry.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to fix a typo regarding an underwater breathing contraption from "Thunderball."

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