The International Spy Museum
April 5, 2012
Did you know that D.C. has the highest spy saturation in the world?
Did you also know there’s a Spy Museum in DC?
And, further, did you know that “spies are AWESOME and REALLY COOL and if you have boys you should go to this museum because it’s AWESOME and REALLY COOL”? (According to my 8 year old)
We had the chance to visit the International Spy Museum
a few days ago and we had a great time. Children 6 and under are free. You can purchase tickets online or buy them at the door. After purchasing your tickets, you head to a line where you wait to get on one of two special elevators. The elevators light up and talk to you. At this point, we divided into two camps. There was “Team This is Awesome” which consisted of my 8 year old son, my 5 year old son, and me, and there was “Team This is Not Awesome”, which was entirely comprised of my 4 year old daughter. She thought the elevator was a little disconcerting.
Once you arrive at the top of the elevator, you pick a spy identity and then head in for a movie. The boys thought this was awesome(!!) and had a great time selecting their spy names and alias information. My daughter wanted to be a princess, which was not an option, and thought the movie was scary (it wasn’t, the best I’d give it is “sections of ominous music”). From here on out, just assume she found some reason to complain about everything 🙂 Apparently this wasn’t her day. We’ll focus on the boys.
(All images courtesy of the International Spy Museum)
In the next room, you were able to test your spy alias knowledge and check out different spy skills and gadgets. We learned how to pick a lock and saw several hidden compartment tools. There was also a section on spy makeup, where the kids could see how a little plastic and a fake mustache could turn a middle aged white woman into a young terrorist operative. It was really interesting!
As you wind through a few other rooms, you learn about spies in popular culture (there’s a Bond car!) and how spies helped alter the course of several wars. There are sections on propaganda, the WWII spy effort, codes, the Cold War, and more. There’s even a section about pigeons that were used to take pictures and carry messages across enemy lines!
There are also sections where you walk through simulated tunnels, and there’s a few videos and a section on spies who turn bad, as well as a section about cyberterrorism.
We had a great time and the boys stayed interested the entire time. The especially liked all of the spy tools and the areas that were designed to look like historical areas, especially the WWII farm house setup, underground tunnels, and the section about the Berlin Wall. I would definitely say this is a must-see if you have visitors!! The boys are STILL playing spy, and we picked up a hilarious Spy-themed Mad Libs from the gift shop, which is a favorite game around our house.
International Spy Musuem
Recommended for: My 5 year old really enjoyed this museum, but as a rule, I think that anyone who’s “free” isn’t the intended audience, so I would say ages 7 and up are going to have the best possible experience. It’s set up well to be able to bring a younger sibling, though, as there’s plenty to look at. The day we went there were tons of teenagers, and they all seemed to really enjoy the subject material!
Pros: Exciting, engaging, and different, this museum was a nice change from our typical “visit the dinosaurs” trip into DC. The boys really enjoyed the experience.
Cons: This museum can get BUSY so if you can plan to visit on a week when most people are in school/work, do! The day we visited several of the interactive computers/listening stations weren’t working, and people tend to be at each station for a good amount of time. Just be prepared to be a little patient.
Be prepared for: We went through in about 2 hours, and easily could have spent more. There’s a gift shop at the end (you knew it was coming!) but there are actually some great books, games, and “spy gear” in there, so if you’re looking for a good place to pick up souvenirs, the kids section is well stocked.
Also note: The Spy Museum has several additional programs that you can sign up for, including spy missions, overnights, and Spy Camp. Check their website for details!
We had an awesome time at the Spy Museum, and definitely recommend you check it out! Want to go for free? We have a family 4 pack of tickets for a winner!
Enter simply by leaving a comment! Good luck! This contest will close on Sunday at midnight!
Disclosure: PwcMoms.com was provided with free admission to the International Spy Museum as well as an additional set of tickets as a giveaway. All opinions expressed here are my own.