The Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N exhibit in Times Square is something I’ve been looking forward to seeing since it opened. However, first things first. That acronym? Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network. Of course.
Officially, the exhibit is “a completely immersive experience that brings visitors into the world of The Avengers. Visitors of all ages are granted S.H.I.E.L.D. access to the official S.T.A.T.I.O.N. headquarters and taken deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here visitors will have open access to a vast array of intelligence files, classified studies and experiments that explores the history and scientific origins of Marvel’s The Avengers.”
It’s important to note that this exhibit is almost exclusively based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you’ve seen (and enjoy) the movies, then you’ll enjoy this exhibit. No comic book knowledge is required.
The experience begins when you input your information onto a computer touchscreen before even getting in line to enter. Every visitor is then issued a SHIELD ID badge (with your name on it, so it makes a cool takeaway), which you’ll use to activate various stations throughout the exhibit.
I should note that none of the stations are mandatory, and none of the information is tallied in any way. For example, there’s a room with various intelligence and agility “tests.” This is not a competition. Any score you receive on a specific machine is all in fun, so don’t sweat it too much.
Visitors are admitted by group. Immediately after entering, they snap a posed photo of you in front of an Avenger backdrop. Expect to see that photo again (for sale) at the end of the exhibit.
From here on out, you feel as if you’re inside a secret underground SHIELD headquarters. They’ve certainly done a good job of making the experience fully immersive. In addition to the exhibit “set” completely surrounding you (including details on the floor), the sound effects and music completely envelope you. The only time sound “bleeds through” from one area to the next is right before and after the Hulk’s room. His roaring echoes through the hallways, which I guess is appropriate.
The exhibit, as I mentioned, is a series of rooms each dedicated (more or less) to one character or concept. All of the artifacts, props, and costumes on display (and there are a lot) are original from the films. With the exception of one: Iron Man. The Iron Man armor on display was made specifically for this exhibit; it’s not from any of the movies.
You’ve got your Captain America room, complete with the machine that made him a super soldier, his 1940s shield, and a few of the totally awesome Captain America trading cards.
You’ve got your Hulk room, in which you conduct an experiment with gamma radiation exposure and marvel (ahem, sorry) at an 8-foot projection of the Hulk himself.
You’ve got your Iron Man room, where you can pretend to be Iron Man at an incredibly realistic level. You don’t actually don the armor, but there are machines that mimic Iron Man’s helmet. Sensors tracks your eye movement and brainwave patterns as you attempt to track enemies and destroy them (by blinking).
The technology here was the most impressive. However, it was really hard! Even more so for little ones. A couple machines were situated lower to the ground, but they were still too high for my kids. I had to hold them up to the machine, and it was just too hard to keep their heads stable enough for the sensors to stay connected.
Elsewhere in this room, you can wave your hand and move your fingers in front of a sensor to control Iron Man’s gauntlet. Way cool.
Throughout the exhibit, costumes and props line the walls and hallways.
As a “museum exhibit,” Avengers STATION is hands down the most high-tech, impressive one I’ve ever seen. There are roughly 200 screens (computer, LCD, and touch) throughout the exhibit and more than 2 miles of cabling packed away, helping the whole thing run. (This Mashable article goes into some great, geeky detail about the tech.)
As a tribute to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it couldn’t be better. Like I said, if you’re a fan of the movies, you’ll love this. And even if you haven’t. My kids haven’t seen any of the movies—but they know the characters—and they had a blast.
Avengers STATION is currently at Discovery Times Square, on 44th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. Tickets are $27 for adults and $19.50 for kids 3–11.
It will, most likely, go on tour at some point in the future, so be on the lookout for specifics if you can’t catch it in New York.
(Disclaimer: We were guests of Discovery Times Square/Avengers STATION for our visit. All opinions remain my own.)