Everything Worth Seeing At The DC Spy Museum, In 49 Pictures

While in D.C. for a recent
defence conference, I couldn’t fight the temptation to visit the International Spy Museum, located right in the center of the city.

My mission was to leave with the museum’s most valuable information saved to my phone’s camera roll.

Just outside the museum I determine that the man in the red jacket is way to ostentatious to be gathering intel on me.

Behind the front desk is a map of every Bond spy villain in history. I wonder if I'll see any real spy stuff.

I give the ladies at the counter money, and they give me a Spy Guide map of the museum, along with a ticket.

The very first exhibit is of a car from the Bond movies. It has a mini gun attached to it. I jot down this sentence in my journal, under the heading 'goals': 'own a car with a minigun attached to it.'

An elevator brings you to the first floor where Museum stewards tell you to pick a 'cover.' They tell me I may be quizzed on this cover later.

I pick 'Colin Walker,' a British Art student heading to Turkey.

In the same room as the covers are all sorts of historical spy memorabilia. Here are the official crests for international spy agencies (yes, most countries have spy agencies).

Here's Antonio Mendez's actual Intelligence Star for Valor for his actions rescuing American diplomats from Iran (popularised by the film 'Argo').

Museum stewards usher me and about 40 field-tripping 8th graders into a small movie room, where we're shown a brief film about espionage and covert intelligence.

Outside the movie room we walk into the School For Spies.

For a quick change in disguise, try putting a pebble in your shoe.

No, this is not a joke, a lot of the spy museum covers Ninjas and other historical spies.

'No barrier can bar the agents nicknamed 'Ninja.''

Then there's a picture of Spy Lampoon Leslie Neilson ...

Beside a picture of a ninja.

Several glass cases show off real-life spy tools. Here's a set of lock-picks.

Here's a bunch of stuff for spies who parachute in on targets, to include boots that look like regular shoes ...

... and a boot-heel knife, for those close encounters.

There's capsule that agents could use to hide escape tools in their rectums.

Here's a whole bunch of killing tools.

The 'gas assassination rifle' quietly fires a flechette which just as quietly penetrates the victim.

This dagger looks like a prison shiv. There are several places on the body where it is just long enough to kill.

The actual pistol from Soviet code clerk Igor Gouzenko. He tried to defect to Canada and they initially thought he was just a crackpot.

A glove-gun, a lighter gun, and a flashlight gun. Each carries a single round of ammunition, just enough for a kill close up.

A KGB poison dart gun.

Here's a diagram of how embassy rooms would be layered to prevent eavesdropping.

Here's the scanner, the Bearcat 250, the KGB would use to try and scoop embassy communications.

Scholars say espionage falls under the idiom 'second oldest profession' because of references to spies in the Old Testament's Book of Joshua.

More ninjas.

The historical room covers use of spies in every major age of humanity, going as far back as 5,000 years ago.

President Lincoln started the secret service to gather intelligence on the country's worst criminals.

Lincoln's leading man, Alan Pinkerton, had this creepy insignia.

Here's a brief history of how Russia's secret police became the feared KGB, now known as the FSB.

One of Russia's greatest spies, Dmitry Bystrolyotov traveled Europe seducing women who had access to diplomatic cables. He later ended up in a Russian Gulag.

Then there's an entire room dedicated to the Western codebreakers of the early 1900s.

Alan Turing is perhaps one of the greatest codebreakers of all time. He solved the Enigma cypher which helped the Allies find German U-Boats.

Turing, considered one of the fathers of modern computing and artificial intelligence, lived and died a lonely man.

Turing helped build device a super-high speed bombe machine, essentially the first 'brute force' hacking computer.

At a very high rate of speed, the machine automatically ran plain-text keys against German cyphers.

What would a spy museum be without James Bond? Ian Fleming, Bond's creator, worked under the British Director of Naval Intelligence during the second world war.

And what is Bond without a few pretty girls ...

Prior to writing his first Bond novel, Fleming would assist in founding the OSS, or Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA.

Of course, there's no Bond without the threat of a post-WWII communist Russia.

And let's not forget Das Germans. Otto Skorzeny was like a real-life James Bond, except a Nazi. He had a very successful private security/spying enterprise following the war.

The last exhibit is dedicated completely to cyber war and Internet espionage (not nearly as cool as James Bond).

The threat of hackers is akin to Pearl Harbor or 9/11, except worse.

The envisioned scenario is that of North America without power and 'chaos in the streets' ...

... as 'power lines turn into battle lines ... '

Finally, I put the Apocalypse behind me, pass through the gift shop, and skedaddle out of the museum ... where DC awaits, home to more spies than any city on earth ...

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