Travel Tuesday: International Spy Museum — Don’t Blow Your Cover


Who is watching? Eyes, ears or even bugs are everywhere. Washington DC’s International Spy Museum curates the world of espionage.

As you enter the door, choose your cover. Are you a student on vacation or a salesman on a business trip? Where did you go, what did you see and what can you remember? Put your skills to the test at Washington DC’s International Spy Museum. Will you keep your cover intact through the whole visit?

International Spy Museum, Cover, photo by Cristine Struble

Our family enjoys watching the Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum. For those unfamiliar, the television show highlights interesting, unusual facts about the museums it features. During one episode, Washington DC’s International Spy Museum was featured. The International Spy Museum became a must visit for our family.

Located on F Street, the International Spy Museum educates its visitors about the art of espionage and the intelligence community. From spies’ impact on history to the gadgets used, this museum combines science, history and a little intrigue.

Throughout both American and international history, spies have been used to gather information, to plant information and to better understand communities. Going back to ancient times, spies influenced major historical events. From the Trojan horse to the stealthy ninja, covert tactics changed the tide of history. The museum chronicles these people, events and stories.

International Spy Museum, Listening, photo Cristine Struble

Someone is always listening.

Have you ever thought that you might be watched or someone is listening? Even in today’s charged political environment, the possibility of listening devices is a popular topic. The museum chronicles the various gadgets that spies use in their trade. From the infamous dog poo listening device to hidden cameras, a spy needs his technology.

The long list of spy equipment is almost baffling. Before technology became commonplace, spies used all types of devices to gather intelligence on their subjects. Traveling through the displays, the amount of material is daunting. Our family questioned how much a person could really keep private or do we really know people. Maybe we should be looking, questioning and surveying our surroundings a little more.

International Spy Museum, gadgets, photo by Cristine Struble

To keep the younger visitors engaged, the International Spy Museum offers a scavenger hunt. Completed at your own pace, the scavenger hunt leads kids through all the museum’s exhibits. The family missions teach kids to be observant, curious, crafty and a great listener. From disguises to code breaking, a spy needs every skill to keep his cover. By completing all the dead drops, the kids can decrypt a code and receive a prize.

Bond villains are exquisitely evil.

During our family’s visit, the first floor offered a special James Bond exhibit, “Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains.” James Bond is the ultimate spy. The dapper, suave man of mystery is popular with young and old. With a treasure of gadgets and a tenacious manner, Bond always seems to overcome the most difficult situations.

International Spy Museum, Bond Villains, photo by Cristine Struble

A Bond story wouldn’t be complete without the villain. Believing that Bond will foil the evil plan, the villains try every chilling tactic to defeat Bond. Some of these evil characters were based on real world villains. Still, Bond holds victorious and everything remains good in the world.

The International Spy Museum is located at 800 F Street, NW, Washington DC 20004. The museum is open every day from 9 a.m. till 7 p.m. Tickets are $21.95 for adults and $14.95 for youth. Packages are available.

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One question remains. Did you keep your cover? Or, has someone uncovered the secrets that you’ve been keeping? A good spy may be sitting right across from you.