A visit to the International Spy Museum takes on a whole new meaning in the light of recent history. One can easily believe the claim made in the museum’s 5-minute introductory film that Washington, D.C., has more spies than any other city in the world. Yikes. Well, if you can’t flee them, join 'em. This museum gives you the chance to do just that, learning the tricks of the trade in interactive exhibits that allow you to take on a new identity and test your powers of observation. (Is that a lipstick tube in your purse or a gun?) Turns out, the most unlikely of people have acted as spies in their time. Would you believe Moses? George Washington? Julia Child?
What you need to know in advance of your visit is that the Spy Museum is relocating in the spring of 2019, or later, to 955 L’Enfant Plaza SW, which lies a few minutes’ walk, or a free shuttle ride, from the National Mall in one direction and the revitalized Southwest Waterfront’s Wharf in the other direction. The new venue doubles the floor space of the original museum and incorporates cool features in its design like the “glass veil suspended in front of an enclosed black box exhibition space,” which allows the movement of people to be visible from both inside and outside. Depending on the timing of your visit, you may find the Spy Museum in its original Penn Quarter location; closed, as it moves into its new digs; or open for business at 955 L’Enfant Plaza SW. Check the website for latest info.
Until the move, this much remains true about the Spy Museum experience: Its inventory of international-espionage artifacts numbers more than 2,400, in exhibits that cover history, as noted, as well as training, equipment, the “spies among us,” legendary spooks, Civil War spies, and 21st-century cyber-spying.