Campbell Finley at the International Spy Museum with a Spy Lipstick

Visitors Can Find Fun & Intrigue at the Spy Museum

I went to the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. I interviewed Lucy Stirn, the Museum Educator who teaches all of Spy Museum’s student workshops and assists with the development of curriculum and education resources. She says, “the museum started in July 2002 by man named Milton Maltz. His idea was to create a place where people can learn about intelligence or spying. There had never been a museum open to the public about spying.” She says, “there is another big spy museum in America, but it’s closed to the public. Only people at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or their special guests can go. It’s located 15 miles from DC in Langley, VA, CIA Headquarters.”

I went to the White House and the Capitol building and other museums. But, the Spy Museum was so much more interesting and fun! Most of the museums in Washington, DC, are free, but this one you have to pay for. It has real spy tools and the real JAMES BOND CARS. She says, “in movies, if you see a car being used there’s more than one car. If one car gets blown up or it gets in a crash, they have multiple cars on set.” These two cars were one of many cars used.

I asked her how they got the weapons like the lipstick pistol. She says, “the spy tools are loaned to the museum by someone. Some are given to the museum as a gift.” I also asked her about the pigeon camera and if it’s still used today. She said, “I don’t know if the pigeon camera is still used today – I doubt it. They have a lot of cool high tech gadgets today like satellites that can take better photos than a pigeon camera. It’s cool to think that in the 1920’s they were using a pigeon to take photos overhead.”

One part of the museum is the air duct. I crawled into a passage way above people in the museum. I heard a recording of people that were talking. But I couldn’t understand it well because it was in Spanish. There’s also a noise meter: Test Your Spy Skills in the air duct that monitors how quiet you are. It has a meter that shows how loud you are. Green is good, yellow is OK and red is not good. Lucy Stirn said, “the air duct was one of the last things put in the museum. It wasn’t in the original design. “. The air duct was my favorite part because it was fun.

Another part of the museum is the computer area called the “School of Spies”. On the computer, there were two people that were in disguise. I chose a picture of a woman, who is a spy. She was in the lobby and I had to click on the person who I thought the woman was. Once I picked the right one, it showed me how she made herself look like an old man that’s walking around. That was one of the things that I liked about the spy museum.

Did you know a Russian spy gave the Great Seal, AKA “The Thing” to the King. It’s a carved wood spy tool (for the Russians) that has a camera inside it. The Russian said it was a sign of “friendship.” It could also hear what the King was saying. But then it got discovered by a British radio operator when someone heard someone else speaking through a radio wave. She said, “it’s a replica so they re-created that.”

She says, “some of the gadgets and other artifacts can’t be out under the light and in the environment for a long period of time because it will damage it. The main one is the letter that George Washington (the first President) wrote to a man asking him to spy on the British during the Revolutionary War. That letter, we own. They only have that out on display three months out of the year. The rest of the time is only a replica – they recreated that letter. They have it out usually around President’s Day weekend and goes out around May – it depends on when the collection people get it in.”

You should go to the International Spy Museum because it’s awesome there. Mrs. Stirn said that “the museum is in Washington, DC because there are more spies in Washington, DC then any other place in the entire world. If I’m on the street, the person next to me could be a spy and I wouldn’t even know it.“

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