Stealth and espionage always sounds so cool, right? Of course it does. James Bond is so suave and has all those fantastic gadgets. Well, after a visit to the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, I was both more intrigued and far more impressed by those that actually lived their lives as someone else. There were so many awesome gadgets from all decades of spying, but first-hand accounts of spies in the real world and ways to test your own skills as a master spy.
Can you keep cool under pressure? Can you remember you cover story? How to answer in-depth questions about your secret identity? Spot a suspicious person on the street? Find clues from other spies? You’ll find all these things out and more at the Spy Museum.
Our visit fell during the 50 Years of Bond exhibit that had tons of trivia and memorabilia from the James Bond films. Unfortunately, there was so much there that we had to rush through half of it, so I would suggest getting to the Spy Museum when it opens instead of mid-afternoon, because you’ll likely need half the day to see everything there is. Between the displays, videos and interactive elements – not to mention the extensive gift shop – you’ll notice time slipping away quite quickly. Your admission ticket includes re-entry, so you can leave to have lunch and then return when you’re refreshed and ready to do more spy stuff.
Remember that telephone shoe from Get Smart? Want to know where the concept came from? Real spies!
Ever wonder how spies connect with each other and pass along information without giving themselves away and also getting murdered in the process? Important data can be encrypted, or more likely hidden in objects, like what appears to be litter on a rarely used road, a coin and in between the layers of postcard.
What about weapons? Spies have a lot of them, hidden in everyday object. They may not be as sophisticated as those you see in movies, but they are definitely innovative. One of my favorite old shows was the Avengers with Emma Peel and John Steed. Mr. Steed, ever the gentleman, wore a bowler and carried a fancy umbrella that was used to aid him in fighting bad guys. It concealed a sword for those he needed a little extra help with. This wasn’t so farfetched, because they actually existed.
So, what happened to spies who got caught? Nothing good. None of them ever were able to go back to their normal lives, and the majority of them were killed, brutally. Even the best spies were always one step away from being found out.
During your visit, you’ll have the chance to pick your cover identity and soak in the information of this person. See how well you retain the information in just a few minutes to be able to answer questions at checkpoints throughout the museum. Will you slip up or are you a master liar? Eric and I both took pictures of our alternate identities, just in case, but I was able to easily answer questions about where I’ve been, what I was doing in the country and how long I planned to stay.
If you want to do many things in DC, then take a look at the NOW Pass for DC, which is what we bought in order to get the most of our money and time.
Who’s Your Favorite TV/Movie Spy?