Results 11-12of 12 Reviews
April 8, 2003
Similar to the Holocaust museum, you get timed tickets, enter an elevator which takes you up to the top of two floors.
Upon exiting, you enter a room where you get to choose an identity. Memorize the information; I won't tell you any more about that. Then, a brief film is played, and you pass into the museum proper. You begin learning about the tools of a spy - weapons, microphones and bugs, picks, cameras, hidden writing, disguises. There are a lot of hands-on exhibits, especially in this area, so kids don't get bored.
Then you get to discover how spies have made a difference, from ancient times to the present, including some really suprising people, like Ben Franklin, Casenova, and Rudyard Kipling. There's a section on women spies.
There is a lot of emphasis on spying during the Cold War, and on spying in Berlin and Russian spies. For good reasons, as you will see. There is a small amount of information on spies in popular culture, but mostly this stays with reality.
The end of the museum has a short film on espionage in the twenty-first century, and a display on recent spies, like Aldritch Ames, John Walker, and Robert Hanssen, all of whom have been big news in my neighborhood.
We loved the museum and we will be back.
The spy musuem has a $13 admission (a rarity in Washington, but worth it) via timed tickets. You can get these tickets ahead of time via Tickemaster, but they charge a service fee. You can also get them there. If you go on a weekday, especially if not in summer, getting in should not be a problem.
There is a sizeable book and gift shop on the ground floor and two restaurants. The Spy City Cafe is a little cafeteria, and Zola is an elegant sit down restaurant (keep in mind this is also near the Portrait Gallery, American Art Museum, and the rest of Penn Quarter, including The Shakespeare Theatre). We did not go to either of these.
The Museum suggests you allow two hours to see the collection. We entered at 1:30 and left at almost 5:30 and felt we would have liked more time. Two hours should be considered a minimum.
The Spy Museum is near the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop on the red, green, and yellow lines. Exit at the MCI Arena exit, and head south a block to F Street then west to 8th.
From journal Wonderful Washington DC
Cary, North Carolina
November 25, 2002
YOUR MISSION: Conduct reconnaissance, gather intelligence, and recover secrets.
Upon entry to the museum, you adopt one of the spy identities hanging on the wall and proceed to the briefing room. I could tell you the identity I chose, but then I'd have to kill you. Let's just say that I'm a 21-year-old Italian female. I'm a travel agent by day, but you'll have to torture me to learn any more.
In the briefing room, you learn that Washington DC is the spy capital of the world. You also learn other spy facts – most importantly, that the best spies are never caught. Now you're going to be trained in the basics to help avoid capture.
Your first test will be passing through security. Approach the touch screen computer with confidence. You don't want to seem shifty. Answer each question. If you're successful, you may pass.
Next, you need to learn to spot all of the hazards that a spy faces while trying to remain undercover. There are twists at every turn -- cameras to catch your every move or old friends that might recognize you. Learn to spot them and move on to the "picking a lock" training video. If you're nimble and spry, you may want to try your hand at crawling through a ventilation pipe -- though many of the other spies weren't very stealthy, I noticed.
You'll also be trained in how to listen for enemy submarines approaching the shoreline. You must be vigilant, as the entire east coast of the U.S. is a possible target. (Now doesn't THAT put your mind at ease. See how important your job is?)
One of the most FAMOUS spys, though the movies blew his cover, is Bond, James Bond. Check out the Astin Martin -- decked out with all kinds of toys from Q -- as it puts on a demonstration of it's usefulness in the movie "Goldfinger."
You always learn from the mistakes of others, and so the museum also takes you through the history of spys - from Mata Hari to Julia Child. There have been spys back as far as there has been civilization -- the Trojan Horse is just one ancient example. But all of the highlighted spys have one thing in common, they were found out. Otherwise, how would we be reading about them?
There were also spys that played roles in every conflict throughout American history, From the Civil War to the Cold War to what's happening in the world today. A spy has even been in the news recently - I'm sure you've heard of him -- Richard Hanssen?
The museum makes sure that you end up in the gift shop, so you can pick up any gear that you may be missing before you head out into the world.
Lastly, trust no one.
From journal Washington DC -- The Spy Capital of the World.