Of all the standard spy movie cliches (the briefcase swap, peepholes cut into the newspaper, the villain’s elaborate death machine), my favourite is the scene where the hero contorts across a room, artfully dodging the criss-crossing laser beams of motion-sensors. At Berlin’s German Spy Museum I have a chance to put my acrobatic and limbo skills to the test.

The laser maze room is just one of the many hands-on exhibits that hold a magnifying glass up to the history of espionage. From encryption techniques to phone-bugging to code-cracking, the world of deceit and double-crossing is unlocked. The museum treads the line between entertainment and education — some of it exceedingly solemn — with commendable finesse. One section is dedicated to the tools and techniques used by the dreaded Stasi, who placed the people of East Germany under mass surveillance for so many years. Another explores the spying methods used in World War II and throughout the Cold War.

Opened in 2015, the German Spy Museum is the brainchild of television journalist Franz-Michael Gunther. And Berlin is the perfect location for it. The museum stands in the former “death strip” or no-man’s land that separated East and West Berlin, now Leipziger Platz. The site featured one of the few openings in the Wall and was the scene of many dramatic spy swaps during the Cold War.

There’s a romance and mystique conjured by the apparently outdated world of espionage. On display are rows of cameras hidden in everyday household items, clunky contraptions used for decoding messages, and cars with hidden compartments for smuggling. It all seems rather quaint at a time when deception is largely practised online; it is difficult to imagine a museum dedicated to computer hacking having the same appeal.

The interactive attractions continue in a room where we’re tasked with locating listening devices. Our forensic skills are tested in a laboratory where the quest is to compose and decipher secret messages. We’re even shown how documents that have been through a paper shredder can be painstakingly pieced together.

Some exhibits are bizarre, such as a jar the Stasi used for “odour capture”, whereby a person’s scent was captured on a rag during questioning and stored so police dogs could later link suspects to a crime scene. There’s also the poisoned umbrella used to assassinate Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in 1978 and the infamous Enigma encryption machine.

Of course, no spy museum would be complete without a generous section devoted to the most famous spy in the world, 007. The chips and playing cards used by James Bond (Daniel Craig) in the 2006 adaptation of Casino Royale are on show, as is a car tyre with ice spikes from Die Another Day and M’s red telephone from Moonraker.

I spend an inordinate amount of time in the costume room. Decked out in a trench coat, top hat and sunglasses, I make quite the dashing spy, if I do say so myself. There are myriad backdrops against which you can pose for a photo and I opt for a street scene on a rainy night; a streetlight illuminating the raindrops, the flash of a car’s headlights giving my face a suspicious glow and in my hand a briefcase, ready to be exchanged while the city sleeps. But who’s watching?

I complete the laser maze on my third attempt, thereby saving the world. It’s the least I could do for a world that has given me so much entertainment on a grey Berlin afternoon.