International Spy Museum – Washington, D.C. - Atlas Obscura
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International Spy Museum

“They say you're judged by the strength of your enemies”—James Bond, Quantum of Solace. 


Lipstick pistols and the Enigma cipher machine, transmitters, receivers, tiny cameras, and disguised listening devices—the tools of espionage.

In what feels slightly counter-intuitive, the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., dedicates its time and space to educating the general public on the techniques of one of the most intriguing trades to ever overthrow a leader, win a war, or go through the trash bags of the rich and famous. In an attempt to shed light on the veiled but pivotal roles played by spies throughout history, the museum strives to portray the art of espionage in an educational and nonbiased format, at the same time showing the intricacies of the men and women driven to this lifestyle of lies and secrets.

Opened in 2002, this collection is the largest ever displayed in a public setting. Several items have been revealed to the general public for the very first time, ranging from James Bond kitsch to the very real and historically significant. When you tire of observing relics of missions past and Mission Impossible, there is an interactive program that takes you through an hour-long spy adventure with you playing the part of the undercover agent, walking in the footsteps of the sly masters of the spycraft.

Know Before You Go

The museum has timed passes. On busy days you can wait 1-2 hours. The best bet is to buy your timed pass ahead of time.

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