The International Spy Museum (SPY) will open in spring 2019 with completely reimagined, state-of-the-art exhibits that provide a behind-the-scenes look at how intelligence has changed the world and continues to affect our lives today. With interactive exhibitions and installations, the foremost collection of spy artifacts in the world, and first-person accounts from top intelligence officers and experts, the new Museum places visitors in the shoes of the spies, agents, analysts and world leaders who make life-and-death decisions.
The International Spy Museum’s purpose-built new facility is located in Washington, D.C.’s L’Enfant Plaza, a short walk between the National Mall and The Wharf. The new 140,000 square foot steel and glass building—designed by architects Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners, known for the Pompidou Centre, the Senedd, and the Millennium Dome—is twice the size of SPY’s current home, providing custom-built galleries for a wide array of immersive exhibits and programming spaces. The exhibits are brought to life by extensive research, direct accounts from the individuals engaged in these incredible endeavors, actual artifacts from world-changing events and operations and opportunities for visitors to interact directly with the content and test their aptitude for espionage.
The Museum will explore the many roles individuals play in spying and intelligence work—from the agents and their handlers in the field who collect intelligence or carry out covert operations, to the technical wizards who envision and create the gadgets that support them. Digging into its trove of intelligence stories, the Museum showcases a diverse cast, from the women whose analytical prowess facilitated the capture of Osama Bin Laden to James Lafayette, the African American spy whose intelligence reports helped George Washington clinch victory in the American Revolution, and many others, famous, infamous and unknown. Through this exploration of people, missions and artifacts from across the globe—from ancient Greece and China, to Cold War Cuba and Vietnam, to cyberspace and social media—these new exhibitions will present a comprehensive look at how spying has shaped our world and continues to do so.
A few of the highlights of the new Museum include:
• Groundbreaking exhibit uncovering the vital work of intelligence analysts that transports visitors to The Situation Room during the capture of Osama bin Laden
• An interactive exploration of red teaming, the process by which new analysts poke holes in theories, challenge conclusions and ensure the highest confidence in actionable data
• An immersive exhibition, “Berlin City of Spies,” exploring Communist Berlin, including a Stasi office with all original artifacts, a border checkpoint, original segments of the Berlin Wall and a piece of the Berlin tunnel.
• An exploration of critical challenges facing intelligence agencies in a democracy, including mass surveillance practices, keeping secrets from the public, and the leaking of classified information
• An exhibition on Covert Action that lifts the curtain on ultra-secret operations created to influence international events, from propaganda to sabotage to assassination
• RFID (radio frequency identification) technology and interactive stations enabling visitors to take on spy personas and test their mettle and skills
• An installation where cyber experts explore the possible future threats to the security of nations.
“Spycraft has evolved dramatically since we established the International Spy Museum in 2002,” said Spy Museum Founder Milton Maltz. “It’s never been more important for people to understand and appreciate—especially in a democracy—the many roles espionage has played, and continues to play, in shaping our lives, our country, and the world we live in. I’m very proud that we are now expanding the Museum to meet the ever-growing need and desire to learn about the threats we face and the stories of the men and women who are so critical to global security and stability.”
The International Spy Museum’s new facility effectively doubles its education and programming space including: 30% larger permanent exhibition space; dedicated temporary exhibition space; flexible classroom spaces; a fully-acoustic controlled theater accommodating up to 160 guests for lectures, films, and panel discussions; and many adaptable spaces for programs. The rooftop provides nearly 360-degree views of Washington DC, from the US Capitol to the Washington Monument to The Wharf. The Museum’s indoor event space, seating up to 500 guests, for private events and public programs, is encased with floor-to-ceiling windows. The rooftop and indoor event spaces opened in September of 2018.