Results 1-10of 12 Reviews
January 2, 2011
From journal Off The Beaten Path Around Washington, DC
February 9, 2009
From journal Spies Like Us
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.
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
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
October 9, 2006
From journal Washington - Sights and Tastes
March 1, 2004
Upon arriving at the Museum we discovered that admittance for us was $12.00 for my husband and father due to their military affiliations, and $13.00 for my brother, mother and me. Once paying our admission we stood in line and waited for an elevator to take us up to the beginning of the exhibits.
When you first arrive upstairs you are told to pick an identity from one of the many adorning the walls and to memorize it as this will be your identity during your time at the museum. Honestly each one of us attempted to memorize everything about our chosen identity in the assumption that at one point during our time at the museum we would be questioned about who we were and where we were going.
After a few moments of standing around and asking many of the other guests in the museum “Who are you?” rather jokingly, a pair of double doors opened rather ominously and we were instructed to take a seat for our briefing. It turns out that this was just a movie narrated by “actress name” that simply explains the many difficulties and complexities of the life of a spy. After the movie ended we filed out of the small auditorium through the double doors and were then surrounded by the exhibits in the Tradecraft skills area which has an amazing array of devices such as miniature surveillance equipment and weapons that were designed to be hidden in coat pockets, sunglasses or lipstick cases. There are even some hands-on exhibits that you can try out for yourself.
After approximately an hour and a half we had finally reached the end of the exhibits, walked through the doors marked exit and found ourselves in the Museum gift shop. We were all rather disappointed as not once did anyone inquire about our adopted identity which we all struggled to remember. We were also very disappointed by the lack of organization and directions as it just seemed as if the exhibits were just placed here and there randomly. Most of all we were rather frustrated because of the amount of adults and children that were present on a Friday morning which filled the museum hallways and made it extremely difficult to view many of the exhibits.
For more information please see the Museum’s website www.spymuseum.org
From journal Time well spent in Washington DC
August 12, 2005
Although most museums in Washington, D.C., are free, this one has an entrance fee of $13 for adults and $10 for children over 5 years of age.
To control crowding, tickets are assigned an entry time. Get in line early to purchase your tickets and plan the rest of your day according to your assigned time. These exhibits can be very crowded, even with the assigned entry times, so if you are a spy buff and like to read and experience all of the exhibits, plan to spend a minimum of 3 hours exploring the museum.
I would not recommend the museum for young children, as most exhibits require a lot of reading and there are few interactive exhibits. The museum store on the lower level is another matter. Children (and some adults) usually find it more interesting than the museum itself, and entry is free.
Additional facilities include a museum store and two restaurants: Zola and Spy City Cafe. Zola is an upscale restaurant (which requires reservations) that has a great martini bar and wide selection of champagnes. Spy City Café is a casual place to grab a quick sandwich or snack.
From journal Penn Quarter - Cultural and Urban Revitalization
October 7, 2006
From journal A Week in Washington D.C.
November 17, 2005
When we were told that we should plan to spend a minimum of 2 to 3 hours in this museum, I was surprised because I had a hard time believing there could be that much to see and do in such a place. But ,after 2-1/2 hours, we found that we could have easily spent another hour or two. Upon entering the museum, each person assumes a secret identity and is subsequently tested to see if they can maintain their cover. It's a really neat introduction into the concept of spying. Then there is one room after another filled with gadgets, tools, weapons, vehicles, and other devices used by spies. There are videos and written information explaining everything you ever wanted to know about how spies do their jobs.
I really enjoyed learning about surveillance and listening devices. The interactive exhibits were interesting too - my kids spent a great deal of time trying to decipher codes. They also very much enjoyed the rooms geared toward spies in the world of entertainment. There were so many photos and memorabilia from Austin Powers, Get Smart, James Bond, and many, many others. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone with small children - we saw many families leaving relatively quickly because of children who were not old enough to appreciate this museum. But other than that, I would highly recommend this museum to anyone who likes mystery and espionage. It really was fascinating - well worth the money and the time.
From journal Weekend in Washington D.C.
July 18, 2003
There are many actual spy artifacts from old time to the most up-to-date. You can test your skill in breaking codes or sitting at a computer finding missiles and planes that are hidden. You can listen to earphones picking up soundwaves and other people's conversations going on in the building. Many old spy TV shows are displayed, which is fun for the nostalgic, like "Get Smart" and "Man from U.N.C.L.E." There is a room dedicated to female spies like Mata Hare and Belle Boyd from Civil War fame.
It was a wonderful museum, but, like most DC museums, it is hard to take it all in in one visit.
From journal Spying in D.C.