The International Spy Museum – A Tourist’s Review


 My wife and I along with my parents visited the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC on Friday July 6th, 2012.  It was one of the hottest days of the summer for the Washington, DC metro area.  The recorded high on Friday was 99 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.2 degrees Celsius.  Because of the heat, most people were looking to do something indoors and in air conditioning if possible.  The International Spy Museum is a privately owned museum that looks at the history and future of espionage and spy craft.  It is located in the Penn Quarter section of Washington across from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  The museum is easily accessible using the Metro rail system with the Gallery Place Metro station just across the street.   Since the International Spy Museum is privately owned the museum charges an admission fee of about $21 per adult with special rates for children, seniors and members of the intelligence community.

When you enter the exhibit area you are supposed to assume an identity of a spy.  You are supposed to carry that identity with you throughout the museum.  The museum does not do a good job of following through with that and it is a time waster.  They should just let you into the exhibit area without the first stop to assume your secret identity.  There are a lot of interactive exhibits for all ages but they were hard to take advantage of.  The museum was crammed with people and it was hard to take in the exhibits.  The museum sells tickets for each hour.  It does not appear they follow that rule for admission.  We had tickets for 2pm and they let us in at 1:30.

The museum covers the eras of spy craft and espionage from medieval times to the present day.  They have on display the unclassified tools of the trade and interesting stories and facts that go along with them.  They do a good job talking about modern espionage in the information age and the threats that we are facing today.  The quality of the exhibits is very good and you can get a lot of good information from the displays.  They do not allow any photography or videotaping.  However they make a point of pointing out to you that wherever you go that chances are you are being watched and recorded inside the museum and out.  Big brother is really watching you.  They should know because the founders and operators of the museum are former agents for big brother.

Overall I liked what I saw but because of the masses of people within I found it hard to take things in.  It is one of the best private museums I have ever visited.  I do recommend it but I also recommend that you plan your trip in an off peak time of the year, preferably when it is about 20 degrees cooler.  Try to maximize your discounts because the admission price is a little steep in my opinion.  They do offer discount codes from time to time but you have to be a good investigator and find them for yourself.

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