International Spy Museum

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by grannola on October 9, 2006

The International Spy Museum sounded like it would be really neat. We read about it in tour books and even talked to people who'd been there. Although it had potential, we were a bit disappointed. The first problem is that strollers are not allowed, so we stashed the stroller and borrowed a baby carrier. The 1-year-old is quite heavy to carry around for 2 hours, even in a carrier, but he isn't big enough to spend 2 hours walking either. Well, we figured we'd give it a shot.

It cost us $42 for the whole group to get in, which seemed high considering the Smithsonians were all free. So, we went in, and first you go up to the top floor. There you are given a secret identity which you are supposed to memorize because you will be tested on it later. It sounded like a fun game, so we all memorized our bits. (Photography is not allowed in the museum, so you couldn't snap a picture of your identity, but you were allowed to write it down). Then we went into the briefing room where we watched a short video. Because they want everyone to see the video, they stop people until the video room is full.

This means that when you get to the other side of the next door, you do it at the exact same time as 50 other people. This is where the next problem comes in. In order for the mission to go through, you have to access a computer in this room and type in your information you memorized. Then you get your mission. We did not get to do this, because there were 50 people in front of us. On the top floor there were lots of displays of spy gadgets, including a 007 life size car. The kids favorite was crawling through an air duct to spy on other people. Mom went with them and thought it was really dumb because the duct was much larger than a real air duct - so large the 4-year-old actually ran through it.

From there, the museum is laid out in a bit of a time line. Ancient spies, war spies, female spies all have their own rooms. There is a war propaganda spy video playing in one room. There were lots of hands-on computer type things for the 8-year-old to do. The 4-year-old found a couple of headphones to listen to. From there, you head downward, seeing more gadgets and learning about codes. There was a cute looping video with classic movie and TV spies.

Finally you get to the debriefing room where you need to enter the results of your mission in to the computer. Again, we couldn't participate because we'd missed out at the beginning. On the way out, you go through the requisite gift shop, where they have lots of spy stuff all at gift shop prices. Some of it was cute, some just cheesy.
International Spy Museum
800 F St. NW
Washington, District of Columbia, 20004
(202) 393-7798

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