Not only is Washington the seat of US government but it is also the home to the FBI and CIA. When visiting the “Capital of Espionage” we highly recommend that you set aside some time to visit the International Spy Museum, which pulls back the curtain on the world of secrets.
The museum was expanded and reopened during 2019 and now features a number of immersive virtual experiences that shed more light on the spying in a post 9/11 world, on the growing threat of cyberwarfare and on the often overlooked contributions of women and African-American officers in this world.
Your visit begins in the Briefing Center where you will receive your cover identity and prepare to test your spy skills on an undercover mission through the museum.
Learn about the tools of the spy trade which facilitate surveillance, covert communications, escape, evasion, disguise and secret entry. The museum’s 7 000 artifacts allow visitors to view never-seen-before intelligence gadgets from umbrella guns to cigarette cameras, radios in shoes, transmitters disguised as dog turds, glove pistols, button hole cameras and eye glasses fitted with cyanide pistols.
Hear firsthand accounts and learn the history of famous spies such as James Lafayette, Mosab Yousef, Morten Storm, Dmitiri Bystrolyotov, Mata Hari and Sir Francis Walsingham.
Berlin: City of Spies – invites visitors to step back in time to the surveillance state that was Communist East Berlin. This exhibit features original sections of the Berlin Wall, a Stasi office, an East German hotel room and an interrogation room where you can finally have the opportunity to grill your friends on the secrets that they have not been sharing.
There is an actual section of a tunnel from West to East Berlin on display which was used in a joint CIA/MI6 mission in the early 1950s to tap underground Soviet communication lines. Insectothopter, the dragonfly shaped KGB version of the CIA’s flying robo-bug, was used to test listening devices. Codenamed the Sleeping Beauty Submarine, the motorized submersible canoe designed by the British during WWII could carry spies to enemy coastlines or to attack vessels underwater. The ten pound note printing plate that the Germans forced Jewish artists imprisoned in their Concentration Camps to create can also be viewed. This device was intended to be used to produce enough counterfeit currency that it would disrupt the British economy.
The Red Team is a virtual interactive experience where visitors participate in an exercise that CIA analysts used in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Other displays teach you to pick locks, learn about the art of disguise, avoid detection by climbing through air ducts, try out as a cryptologist and crack some codes or squeeze into unobtrusive spaces in an effort to sneak across a border.
There is also a section of the museum dedicated to the spy pop culture. See props from famous spy movies as well as James Bond’s famous Aston Martin.