There are a ton of places to eat, shop, listen to music, and socialize throughout DC, but that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t have an educational side. And in a place swimming in its fair share of free museums, only one stands out that’s actually worth paying for: The International Spy Museum.
The museum does a great job of bringing you into the world of spies by requiring visitors to assume one of 16 spy identities. You get 5 minutes to memorize your fictional “cover” before you enter the museum, and once you’re get past the entrance museum guides acting as police officers might question you about you identity.
The International Spy Museum lives up to its name by featuring some pretty extensive exhibits on espionage methods and materials starting with the Greek and Roman empires and going all the way up to the 21st Century. Along the way you’ll learn about a spy’s tools of the trade, how spies were used in the early days of history, the way intelligence gathering helped during the two World Wars and the Cold War years that followed afterward, as well as the challenges faced by the intelligence community today in the face of rapid technological growth.
In addition to the normal exhibition there are two interactive ones that really make you feel like you’re stepping into the shoes of a covert agent. In the first, Operation Spy, visitors assume the role of spies and take part in a Hollywood style spy simulation. You move from area to area with the goal of thwarting a secret arms deal involving nuclear weapons (what other kind of nefarious plot is there?). The other, Spy in the City (no Sarah Jessica Parker) , is more like a giant scavenger hunt where people are given GPS devices and tasked with finding clues at various landmarks around the museum. The goal? Obtaining a password for a secret weapon….a weapon so secret that it may or may not blow up the world. I’m not sure though…like I said, it’s a secret.
Tickets range from $15-$40, but for that price you get an experience you just couldn’t have anywhere else.
The International Spy Museum
800 F St. NW
Washington, DC 20004
Opem 9am – 7pm daily
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