The International Spy Museum

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by tamtbell on March 1, 2004

My father, who always loved watching James Bond, decided that we should all visit the somewhat newly opened Spy Museum in downtown Washington DC. Since my parents live a short distance away from the Blue line metro station at Franconia Springfield station, we decided to drive to the station and then take the metro all the way to the Chinatown station. This station is approximately a brisk 10 minute walk to the museum but on a nice day it’s a pretty interesting one as you pass by other pedestrians, shops, and vehicles racing by you.

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

International Spy Museum
800 F St. NW
Washington, District of Columbia, 20004
(202) 393-7798

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