The International Spy Museum is a privately owned museum run by former members of the intelligence community. The Museum opened in 2002 at a cost of $40 million. Admission is charged for museum entry.
The 68,000 Square feet of Museum is located at 800 F Street, NW between 8th and 9th Streets. It is only one block from the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro Station making it readily accessible by public transportation.
The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day and hours can vary although it usually opens between 9 and 9:30 AM and closes no earlier than 6 PM unless hosting a special event. Last general admissions are allowed in 2 hours prior to closing.
While permanent exhibits do pay homage to fictional spooks like James Bond some 95% of the museum focuses on real life espionage history. Two hundred genuine gadgets and tools of the spy trade developed by different agencies including the CIA and the KGB are on display. The tiger dung transmitter and exploding tree stump are among the crowd pleasers found here.
Code breaking history and counterintelligence operations in history are explored as well as how secrets like the atomic bomb were lost. The history of espionage examined at the museum moves forward from biblical times to the present while lingering on 20th Century spy history and the rivalries of the Cold War.
Beyond the history of espionage the museum takes a look at the challenges for intelligence in the 21st Century without revealing any of the newest technology or secrets currently being used.
Interactive quizzes, surveillance games and videos help to keep the museum entertaining for children older than 10 years of age.
Special exhibits, lectures and seminars also take place at the International Spy Museum and usually have their own admission charge that is separate from the General Admission price.
Various membership schemes are available with distinct benefits and discounts attached to each package.
Special tours and packages are also offered including the deluxe $10,000 for four people Ultimate Spy Adventure which includes being wined and dined by two former CIA chiefs.
The Executive Director of this museum spent 36 years with the CIA. Two former CIA Directors as well as one retired KGB General are also linked to the museum as members of the Advisory Board of the International Spy Museum.
Strollers may be checked but are not allowed past the main lobby of the building nor is any photography permitted within the museum.
The museum is wheelchair accessible and makes provisions for the blind or weak of sight. A limited number of wheelchairs are available for use within the museum facility. Sign language and oral interpreters are available with 2 weeks minimum advance notice.