Claiming the largest collection of international espionage artifacts on public display, the International Spy Museum in Washington DC provides an engaging experience that showcases high-tech gadgetry, notorious spy cases, secret methods, and the sometimes not-so-pleasant consequences of being an international person of mystery. The special “Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains” exhibit is a must-see for any fan of the Bond films.
All visitors to the International Spy Museum are invited to play the role of a secret agent by adopting a “cover” at the start of their visit. After viewing a short video introducing the secret history of espionage, travelers work to identify disguises, listen to bugs, and spot hidden cameras as they learn the ins and outs of being a spy. Visit the museum as a stop on a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour, or combine the bus tour with an attractions pass that includes admission to the museum.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The museum is extremely popular among kids, with plenty of interactive exhibits to entertain families.
- Lines can get long, sometimes stretching outside the building—purchase tickets in advance to save time.
- There is a lot to see and do within the museum; allow at least two to three hours for your visit.
- Visit the museum shop to find everything you need for your next secret mission.
- Strollers are not allowed but may be left in the coat room at no charge. Baby carriers are available to borrow.
How to Get to the International Spy Museum
Located in Penn Quarter, the International Spy Museum is within easy walking distance from many downtown DC hotels, the nearby J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, and the National Archives. It is also a block from the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station.
When to Get There
The International Spy Museum is open daily from 10am to 6pm and is especially popular on weekends and holidays; plan accordingly. To avoid crowds, try to arrive when the museum opens or later in the afternoon. The last tickets are sold an hour before closing time.
Interactive Spy Experiences
The International Spy Museum offers two add-on experiences for visitors interested in diving deeper into the world of international espionage. Operation Spy is an hourlong, immersive experience in which you play the role of a special agent on a mission. In Spy in the City, participants embark on a scavenger hunt in the neighborhood surrounding the museum. Armed with a GPS unit, you’ll decipher clues, codes, and audio intercepts while uncovering the history, mystery, and landmarks of the area.