International Spy Museum, Washington, DC

What better time to photograph the International Spy Museum than at night? Kmf164 photographed the building on January 11, 2006.
What better time to photograph the International Spy Museum than at night? Kmf164 photographed the building on January 11, 2006. | Source

What is espionage (spying)?

Espionage (spying) is the act of obtaining secret or confidential information without the knowledge of the person in possession of, or responsible for, that information. It is a type of intelligence gathering done in a clandestine or secret manner by an individual or a government.

The International Spy Museum in Washington, DC is the only museum in the United States dedicated solely to espionage. The museum presents worldwide information about spying in a non-judgmental, apolitical manner, and doesn't focus upon any one country's point of view or ideology.

Kmf164 took this photograph of the International Spy Museum's sign on January 11, 2006.
Kmf164 took this photograph of the International Spy Museum's sign on January 11, 2006. | Source

Brief History of Spying (Espionage)

The recorded history of espionage (spying) can be traced to both ancient China and ancient India. The writing of military strategists Sun-Tzu (circa 476 to 221 BC) from China and Chanyaka (circa 370 to 283 BC) from India both contain information about subversion and deception. The writing of Chandragupta Maurya, Chanyaka’s pupil, discusses the use of secret agents. The Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans all used spies. The Mongols used spies in the 13th and 14th centuries. Ninja were used as spies in feudal Japan.

In more modern times, the former Soviet Union preferred using people as spies, and the United States relied on technology.

The two videos which follow will give you an idea of what the International Spy Museum contains.

A markerInternational Spy Museum -
International Spy Museum, 800 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004
[get directions]

The International Spy Museum's Mission

The International Spy Museum's mission is to provide a non-judgmental global perspective on espionage, to educate the public about the importance of espionage’s role in world history.

The museum —located in downtown Washington, DC on F Street, NW (northwest)—is one of the few museums in Washington, DC which charges an entrance fee. The reason for there being a fee is that it is a private museum, not affiliated with any United States or foreign government agency or organization. The museum neither receives any government funding nor any money from tax revenue.

Visitor
Entrance Fee
Ages 12 to 64
$19.95
Age 65 and older, Military, Law Enforcement
$15.95
Ages 7 to 11
$14.94
Age 6 and younger
Free
Museum members
Free

Open daily 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

800 F Street, NW
Washington, DC
20004

Phone: 202.EYE.SPYU
E-Mail: info@spymuseum.org

Exhibits

The International Spy Museum, in development for more than seven years before it opened on July 19, 2002, does not permit any type of cameras in the exhibit areas—neither still nor video. Many of the artifacts exhibited in the museum are on loan, and images cannot be produced without the permission of the object's owner.

I went to the TripAdvisor Web site to read reviews of the museum which visitors had posted. I wanted to learn which artifacts and exhibits visitors had enjoyed the most.

Many people mentioned the lipstick pistol. This was an item apparently used by KGB— Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti (Committee for State Security)—espionage agents from the former Soviet Union in the 1960s. It’s a single-shot pistol which looks like a tube of lipstick.

Many people also mentioned the pigeon camera. During World War I, cameras were attached to carrier pigeons. The pigeons were released over enemy territory, and the cameras snapped images continuously. When the pigeons reached their destinations, the film was developed and the images interpreted.

An exhibit which opened in 2012—which will remain open until 2014—is Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains. Some of the museum's artifacts associated with James Bond are Jaws’ teeth from The Spy Who Loved Me, Goldfinger’s golf shoes, the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger, Zao’s Jaguar XKR from Die Another Day, and Silva's laptop from Skyfall.

Have you ever visited Washington, DC?

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Is the International Spy Museum a museum you would like to visit?

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More about James Bond

Mohan Kumar, who publishes articles for HubPages using the name Docmo, has written two articles commemorating the 50 years of James Bond films.

More by this Author


Comments 48 comments

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

I would love to visit this museum. It looks very interesting and I really enjoyed your hub. Voted up and interesting.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK

Daisy, this is definitely somewhere I would visit if I ever come to Washington DC, it looks fascinating!


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Looks fascinating. Would love to visit some day. Great job Daisy. Voting up, sharing etc..


alocsin profile image

alocsin 3 years ago from Orange County, CA

In a city full of free museums, this one is worth paying for. I'll need to make time for it on my next trip to DC. Voting this Up and Useful.


mayank786 3 years ago

As i read your Hub it looks very interesting so i try to see this museum..


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Pamela (Pamela99),

Thanks for reading my article and being the first person to comment in it. I'm looking forward to visiting the museum on my next visit to Washington, DC.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Julie (Jools99),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I know how much you love to travel. I have no doubts that you're going to visit the International Spy Museum one day.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Bill (bdegiulio),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and commenting.

I like the fact that the museum is not affiliated with any United States or foreign government agency or organization.


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 3 years ago from Singapore

Very interesting article. Certainly added to my knowledge


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Aurelio (alocsin),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I agree with you that it's worth paying an entrance fee to visit the International Spy Museum. Since the museum doesn't receive any government funding or money from tax revenue, the venue has no choice but to charge a fee.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mayank (mayank786),

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my article and commenting. I hope you have an opportunity to visit the museum one day.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

MG (MG Singh),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I enjoy writing Hubs which are gently educatonal.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Daisy,

The International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. is not the only museum in the United States devoted to espionage. The National Cryptologic Museum located on Fort Meade, Maryland, about 20 miles north of D.C. is also devoted to cryptologic espionage. It is open to the public and has exhibits such as the German Enigma machine which was used for sending secret messages. You can find information about the National Cryptologic Museum on the Internet. I have never visited the museum in D.C., because I didn't know it existed until now. This is a very interesting hub. Voted up and sharing.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Paul,

Thanks for reading my article and commenting.

The International Spy Museum is the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage and the only one in the world to provide a global perspective. The museum presents worldwide information about spying in a non-judgmental, apolitical manner, and doesn't focus upon any one country's point of view or ideology. The museum neither receives any government funding nor any money from tax revenue.

The National Cryptologic Museum is affiliated with the National Security Agency, a United States government entity. It is a specialized museum focusing upon cryptology from a US point of view, not upon the spying (espionage) of countries worldwide.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 3 years ago from Dubai

I never knew about this museum at all. Thank you for sharing. Enjoyed reading. Voted up and shared across.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nithya (Vellur),

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. The museum is new to me, too. I came across a mention of the museum when doing research for one of my other Washington, DC articles.

Thanks for sharing my Hub. I appreciate it.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

I know my husband would absolutely spend all day here if we visited. It sounds like a must see when in D.C. I have heard of it from a friend and was told to make it part of the tour because it is worth the price.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Dianna (teahes12345),

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. I know exactly what you mean about spending the entire day there. My boyfriend would want to do the same thing. He would read the description on the placard for every exhibit, and then tell me all that he already knew about the given artifact.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

Great hub! Anyone who goes to DC should visit this awesome museum! Thanks for highlighting it!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Glimmer Twin Fan,

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. Since nearly all of the museums in Washington, DC have free admission, the entrance fee for this museum "averages out" OK if one visits several museums on a trip to the District of Columbia.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 3 years ago from UK

Great hub on the spy musuem Daisy. I also love the titbits about the history of spying. I have read the original treatise by Chanakya ( please note the spelling - it varies in your text :-)) In his book Arthasasthra ( the science of politics) in which he mention various strategies of the governing a land. Thank you so much for including the links to my Bond hubs- much appreciated.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mohan (Docmo),

Thanks for taking time from writing the medical textbook to read and comment in my article.

Thanks, too, for mentioning the spelling variation in Chanakya's name. I haven't read Arthasasthra, but I have read Sun-Tzu's Art of War.

I appreciate your continuous support of my writing. As I was researching and writing this article, I thought of your wonderful James Bond articles. It seemed only natural that links to them should be included.


AMFredenburg profile image

AMFredenburg 3 years ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

Who knew such a place existed? Sounds like a fun place to visit; wonder how many spies go there. Thanks for an interesting article.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Aldene (AMFredenburg),

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading and commenting in my article.

You posed an interesting idea in your comment... How many spies have visited the International Spy Museum?


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Fascinating, Daisy! I was glued to the videos throughout. A place to visit!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Michelle (midget43),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. This museum is on my "must visit" list. The next time I'm in Washington, DC, I plan to spend several hours exploring the museum.


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 3 years ago from London

Lol, I had no idea such a museum exists!! I would definitely visit of course, I'm crazy about spy stories.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mike,

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. Thanks, too for tweeting my Hub.

The museum is at the top of my list of places to visit the next time I'm in Washington, DC.


joanveronica profile image

joanveronica 3 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

Hi Daisy! Great post! How my father would have loved to visit that museum! I wrote two Hubs on my Dad's activities in counterespionage in South America during WW2, he was head of that section in the British Embassy in Santiago, Chile. As part of the family, both my Mum and I had some roles toplay in this. I expect we would see some of the devices that were used at that time for those activities, what fun! So thanks for sharing this! Voted up, awesome and interesting, also shared!


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

This sounds like a really interesting place and, in light of recent headlines, maybe something that will see some increased interest. Great job, Daisy.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

This looks like a fascinating place to visit. I would love to go! Great hub. Well written and researched.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Joan (joanveronica),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. Thanks, too, for sharing my Hub.

I appreciate your telling us about your family's activities during World War II. I've read those Hubs you mentioned. I think I'll go back and read them again.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Deb (DeborahNeyens),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it.

I wasn't aware of the museum's existence until I saw the article's title listed in an HP Exclusives list. I then did a bit of research and decided I could find enough material for a Hub.

The museum is definitely on my "must visit" list for the next time I'm in Washington, DC.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

FlourishAnyway,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. From what I read while doing my research, to thoroughly explore the museum, one has to allow a few hours. I don't think I would mind that at all.


Rusticliving profile image

Rusticliving 3 years ago from California

Oh my gosh Daisy! This looks like so much fun. I would give anything to live closer to Washington, DC! I love museums that have anything to do with Mafia, Mobs, Spying and Espionage, and planes! You have done a remarkable layout with so much information. Well done. I am going to share this with my honey..he loves that sort of thing as well! Voted up and shared..all over!---Lisa♥


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Lisa (Rusticliving),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your enthusiastic comment. I appreciate your very kind words.

There are so many terrific museums in Washington, DC. I don't think people realize what a great non-government-related tourist destination the city is.


joanveronica profile image

joanveronica 3 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

Hi Daisy, read again, took the polls, great fun! See you!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Joan (joanveronica),

Thanks for visiting again. I don't know when the next time will be that I'm in Washington, DC. Whenever it is, I'm definitely going to visit the International Spy Museum.


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 3 years ago from London

Seems as a great museum to visit. Excellent, informative and useful hub!


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

This looks like such a cool place to go! I have been to D.C., but never there. If I ever make it back there, I may check it out. Thanks for sharing this with us!

~ Kathryn


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Kathryn,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. The museum looks like a fun place to visit.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mike,

Thanks for visiting again. I hope I can spend a few hours at the museum the next time I'm in Washington, DC.


MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

I went to the Spy Museum when I was in DC in December 2012. So glad I did. I have two kids, 9 and 11 and they absolutely loved it. On the map it looks like it's going to be tiny, but they pack a lot into the space. I loved all the little spy gadgets used over the years. I was disappointed that I wasn't allowed to take photos or video (a spy cam would have been handy!).


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

May,

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. It's great to hear from someone who has visited the International Spy Museum.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Your background information is fascinating and of course the museum sounds very interesting. This was a great subject, not something you would see every day.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina

Interesting hub, Daisy. I LOVE spy stuff, although I've yet to see a James Bond movie. I found this hub interesting and encouraging...I want to leave tomorrow for Washington, lol. UP/U/A/I and shared.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mary (tillsontitan),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. I wasn't aware of the International Spy Museum until I searched on "museums" in HP's Exclusives listings and the title came up. I hope to spend a few hours in the museum the next time I'm in Washington, DC.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Denise,

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. Thanks, too, for sharing my Hub. James Bond movies are a lot of fun. Why don't you rent one, and post another comment after you have seen it?

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