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Be a Spy for the Day: International Spy Museum in DC

By AlyseInWonderland, USA, June 2011

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Our nation’s capital has no shortage of renowned museums at which visitors can experience history, science, and impeccably curated art exhibitions. However, if you’re the type of person who prefers excursions with a quirkier edge, the International Spy Museum presents a fun detour from the standard National Mall selections. This privately owned museum is devoted to chronicling the exciting (but obscure) world of international intelligence.

Opened in 2002, the museum houses the largest collection of espionage-related artifacts ever put on public exhibition and with a highly interactive approach. Upon entrance, guests are given a “spy profile” and five minutes to memorize the details of their assigned “cover identity.” They are given a mission to complete as they traverse the displays, and museum employees posing as police periodically stop them to question their cover identities.

A recent addition to the museum’s repertoire, Spy in the City, has visitors searching landmarks surrounding the museum for clues with a GPS device in order to complete a particular “mission.” Participation in the interactive exhibits is optional, but their inclusion makes the museum experience a whole lot more dynamic.

The museum itself has over 600 artifacts on display relating to espionage both in the real world and in popular culture. Tools and methods represented date from the ancient Greeks and Romans to present-day campaigns against terrorism.

It is the only museum of its kind in the nation and takes an objective and apolitical international focus. Both exciting and educational, the International Spy Museum is a great way to learn about the clandestine world of international intelligence and espionage and how it impacts the world today.

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