Spy Museum in Washington DC

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references


  • Where it is
  • Opening Hours
  • Arrival

Histrionic actors, brilliant double agents and with seven lives, secret agents have always exerted an invincible fascination on ordinary people: whether it is for their impossible missions or for a life that is really reductive to define as a novel, it doesn't matter. You can count on the fingers of one hand those who have not loved and cheered for James, James Bond in his endless missions which, with subtlety and imagination, Ian Fleming has outlined in numerous novels.

In a life steeped in mystery, only one thing is certain: nothing is as it seems. From the identity of the spy to the objects used, appearance dominates the lives of these brave agents and not just on the big screen.

In real life, things are not very different: secret agents are not a legend, but a large group of brave men and women who, having sacrificed family and ordinary existence, embark on delicate spying missions, risking every blink of an eye. unmasking and, above all, one's life. Their courage and determination often changes the course of history. Don't believe me? Plan a trip to the International Spy Museum in Washington DC: it will confirm it.

Opened to the public in July 2002, it is the largest museum in the world where art, history and a very rich collection of artifacts from the secret agent profession it is shown without chronological or spatial limits. Unlike other thematic museums, in fact, this exhibition does not focus on certain specific events (such as the Second World War or the Cold War) in the analysis of the role of spies, but offers a complete, 360-degree panorama.

What certainly strikes you at first glance are the small masterpieces of engineering and cunning, design and functionality such as the objects supplied to the agents actually are. A camera hidden in a lipstick is just the most famous example of how the course of history has also been marked by small and unsuspected objects which, thanks to the positions held by curators (leading figures of the FBI, the CIA, but also experts of secret and cryptographic codes), it was possible to recover, contextualize and expose to the public. Alongside the objects owned by the museum, there is no shortage of temporary exhibitions, set up with those that private collectors from all over the world grant on temporary loan.

By visiting the museum, we will be able to learn in a clear, interesting and enriching way the techniques (from concealment to sabotage) and tools (from secret writings to microchips) that real spies use during their missions: we will first be able to watch a film and, then, leave for a tour that, among 200 objects, will drop us into a parallel world, made of suspense and psychological analysis, but also of jumps mortals that the secret agents of all times, from the most ancient to today, have put in place in order to maintain the cover of their identity. In addition to the exhibition space (about 6.000 square meters), the museum offers various kinds of events: thematic readings and insights, video projections and activities for children and families are often scheduled, in order to make the visit even more engaging.

In this interesting journey we will retrace the lives, the missions (well contextualized with historical references) and the results that, moving in the shadows, the secret agents have been able to obtain, discovering to what extent they have affected the destinies of humanity. A fascinating and incredible world will emerge and a new way of reading past and current events, towards which, understandably, the museum gives ample space, reserving a final film on the events of the 21st century.

Lovers of traditional history and that of with "ifs" and "buts", curious about the conspiracy and design of objects, strategists and psychologists, but also children and fans of 007 will find bread for their teeth here: an exhibition more unique than rare in the world to pay tribute to human intelligence and ability to engineer objects and refined strategies to no longer look at the world with the same eyes as before.

And believe me, not even your neighbor.

Where it is

L’International Spy Museum si trova a Washington DC, at 800 F Street, NW; it is normally open from 10am to 18pm, with last admission one hour before closing.

Opening Hours

Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, it follows extended hours during the summer and holidays.


Admission for children under 6 is free and is perfectly accessible to visitors with disabilities.

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