It's believed that there are more spies in Washington than in any other city in the world, making it a fitting home for this museum, which displays the world's largest collection of spy artifacts. Museum advisers include top cryptologists; masters of disguise; and former CIA, FBI, and KGB operatives. Exhibits range from the coded letters of Revolutionary War überspy Benedict Arnold and the KGB's lipstick pistol, to high-tech 21st-century espionage toys.
The Secret History of History takes you behind the headlines, from Moses's use of spies in Canaan and Abraham Lincoln's employment of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency as a full-scale secret service in the Civil War, to the birth of Lenin's state-run espionage ring—later known as the KGB.
Check out the spy gadgets, weapons, vehicles, and disguises and then see if you have what it takes to be a spy in School for Spies.
Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains
brings you face-to-face with Bond villains. More than 100 movie artifacts are exhibited, from the steel teeth worn by Richard Kiel as "Jaws" in 1979's Moonraker to Raoul Silva's laptop in Skyfall. And—of course—Bond's famous Aston Martin is on display.
Operation Spy, a one-hour "immersive experience," works like a live-action game, dropping you in the middle of a foreign intelligence mission. Each step—which includes decrypting secret audio files, a car chase, and interrogating a suspect agent—is taken from actual intelligence operations.
Advance tickets (purchased at the museum or on its website) are highly recommended. All tickets are date and time specific. Tickets are most likely available on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday or daily after 2 pm. Allow about two hours for a visit.
This is a great museum for kids age 10 and up. At the popular monthly KidSpy workshop for kids ages 10–14, participants can assume a cover identity and disguise, make a portable lie detector, crack a cipher, check out surveillance electronics, and more.
The museum regularly hosts events with espionage experts. A GPS-guided walking tour, Spy in the City, takes "agents" 12 years and older on a mission outside the museum walls.