International Spy Museum

DC Day 11

Today was our last day visiting museums, and I must say it was disappointing. We visited the International Spy Museum, and I found myself struggling to find stories in the exhibits. The museum admits to the faults of the museum: lack of stories in the exhibit, confusing areas, and crowding, which is why the museum is moving to a new location with more space. The museum staff presented what they are going to do differently in the new museum to address the challenges that led to today’s dissatisfying visit.

I would have liked to learn more about the history of espionage and the stories of real spies. The top floor exhibit has a lot of objects, but the object labels are short, and the exhibit panels are small. I found it difficult to learn new information about spy history, and had to fall back on my own knowledge. The bottom level has a large exhibit about James Bond, and I thought this exhibit was unnecessary and my least favorite part of the museum. I thought the museum should have included more stories about real spies, and not an entire exhibit devoted to a fictional movie character.

Example of main panel in top floor exhibit

On a more positive note, the museum recognizes these struggles, and has plans to revamp the exhibits, tell stories, add more interactives, and make the museum more child-friendly. Since the museum opened, the intelligence community has evolved, so contemporary issues will now be addressed, since the current museum does not discuss the current climate in intelligence. The museum has invested time in learning from and communicating with visitors about what works in the museum, what does not work, and what visitors want to see in the museum. I look forward to visiting the new museum when it opens because it sounds like it will be the museum I was expecting to see today.