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McLean, Virginia

CIA Museum

This collection of artifacts from the history of the CIA is as secretive as the organization itself 

Down the well-guarded halls of the CIA compound in Langley, Virginia there is a collection of declassified artifacts, weapons, and other items from the world’s secret history collectively known as the CIA Museum.

Apparently saddened that so much of his work and that of his fellow agents was being buried in classified vaults or being lost altogether, then-Executive-Director William Colby founded the CIA Museum in 1972. Since its establishment the collection has amassed over 3,500 pieces of covert intelligence history with pieces as diverse as previously classified documents, infamous weaponry and unique uniforms. Among the illustrious spy heirlooms, mainly donated from current and former members of the CIA and its previous incarnation as the Office of Secret Services, are the famous World War II encryption engine called The Enigma Machine, and even more recently, Osama Bin Laden’s AK-47. 

From hollow coins meant for hiding secret messages to cameras built to mount on militarized pigeons, the CIA Museum is a fascinating catalogue of a history that was always meant not to be seen. The major downside of the museum is that is located in CIA headquarters and thus not open to the public, however exhibitions of the collection are often presented outside of the central location. Anyone wishing to be placed on a government watch list can view many of the astounding pieces of gear on the CIA’s website, just make sure to keep it on the hush-hush. 

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