Spy Museum Unlocks Secret World History

Article excerpt


By Andrew Duffy, age 11 Norwood School, Bethesda

Think all museums are boring? Well, not the International Spy Museum, the only public museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to the art of espionage.

The first section of this extensive museum is the School for Spies, which includes descriptions of how and why one might become a spy, how spies typically are recruited and how they carry out their jobs.

In this section, an interactive video explains the many hardships of spyhood and some of the skills one must master to become a spy. Interactive games test whether you can master spy equipment.

There are exhibits and videos on the skills a spy must possess, such as noticing hidden cameras and microphones, picking locks, spotting a contact and crawling quietly through an air vent (an ability visitors can test by crawling through an actual air vent).

The second exhibit, "The Secret History of History," provides a series of videos, activities and diagrams that depict the history of spying from biblical times to the early 20th century. The exhibits in this section include the equipment and technology used by male and female spies as well as very famous people few think of as spies, such as George Washington (considered "the father of American intelligence") and Daniel Defoe, author of "Robinson Crusoe," known as "the father of the British secret service."

In the third area, "Spies Among Us," a small movie theater shows films that examine espionage during World War II. The moral of the movie is that even the slightest mention of something secret to anyone can have catastrophic results if heard by the wrong person.

This section also includes various exhibits on code breaking, code making and skills used to hide coded messages. This exhibit also includes information on famous spies such as singer Josephine Baker, chef Julia Child and movie director John Ford. …