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Good For Kids
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The front of the museum, it's in a historic building.
International Spy Museum
Closest available address
800 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004
Hours vary by season, generally open 9:00am-6:00pm.
Best time to visit
District of Columbia
The International Spy Museum is a privately owned museum that was established in 2002 and focuses on espionage. The museum has approximately 20,000 square feet of display space and is located in a historic building and about a block from a subway station. The museum displays a variety of spying equipment, such as listening devices, disguises and weapons. There are also some interactive games as well as videos and traditional interpretive signage.
The museum was developed through a foundation established by Milton Maltz, who served in the Korean War. Maltz partially funded the foundation/museum as did the District of Columbia. It was in development for approximately 7 years. The museum is currently located in the Le Droit Building, which was built in 1875. In 2013 the museum indicated it would be relocating in the future to the Carnegie Library building, another historic structure in the city.
There was plenty of company here on a Friday afternoon in the summer. Visiting on a weekday during the school year should help reduce congestion and enhance the experience. The museum starts with a fun opportunity to assume a new identity as one takes an elevator up to the exhibits and then watch a relatively good orientation film. It was not exactly clear what you were supposed to do with your new identity though because after the movie the exhibits on spy technologies and equipment were unrelated to the character. Nevertheless, the exhibits were quite interesting. Most of them were succinct but still informative. Displays about 20th century spying were the most in-depth and most interesting. A special exhibit about the James Bond films opened here in 2012. It is scheduled to run a couple more years. There were some movie clips from Bond films that were entertaining, but given that James Bond is a fictional character, and that the exhibit was essentially a promotion for the movies, its overall merit and relevance is questionable. If time is limited, stick with the main exhibits. This museum was a winner from the standpoint of intriguing content and had a cool factor that will appeal to kids. In addition to the exhibits, lectures and presentations are regularly scheduled on various spy topics. There are also interactive spy games available for an extra charge in which participants pretend to be spies as they undertake tasks in the museum and nearby areas.
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