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International Spy Museum Opens in Washington, D.C.

Staff Report

WASHINGTON, D.C., 19 July 2002 - The International Spy Museum, a new museum exploring the craft, practice, history, and contemporary role of espionage, opened today in Washington, D.C. The International Spy Museum is the first public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage. It features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display. Many of these objects seen for the first time outside of the intelligence community illustrate the work of famous spies and pivotal espionage actions as well as help bring to life the strategies and techniques of the men and women behind some of the most secretive espionage missions in world history. Artifacts include:

Enigma, the legendary WWII German cipher machine: one of the many artifacts illustrating some of history’s most pivotal code making and breaking operations

Shoe Transmitter, a Soviet listening device hidden inside the heel of a target’s shoe: an example of the many eavesdropping devices developed by intelligence services

"Through the Wall" Camera, a Czech camera used by the East German Stasi to photograph through walls: representative of the tools used in clandestine photography

Escape Boots, designed for British pilots in WWII: part of an exhibit describing the various escape and evasion techniques


the kiss of death lipstick pistol
The Kiss of Death: KGB single-shot lipstick


In development for more than seven years, the Museum has drawn upon the knowledge of leading experts and practitioners in the intelligence community. The International Spy Museum’s Advisory Board of Directors and Advisory Council include, among others:


- Judge William Webster: former director of the FBI and CIA
Major General Oleg Kalugin: former Chief of KGB Foreign Counterintelligence

- Lieutenant General Claudia J. Kennedy (Ret.) U.S. Army: former Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence for the U.S. Army

- Congressman Louis Stokes: former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee

- Antonio Joseph Mendez: former Chief of Disguise for the CIA
Jonna Hiestand Mendez: former Chief of Disguise and technical services officer for the CIA

- David Kahn: leading expert in the history of cryptology and a former visiting historian for the NSA

- Keith Melton: renowned author and technical advisor to U.S. intelligence services; maintains one of the world’s largest private collections of espionage-related artifacts

- Christopher Andrew: Chair of the British Intelligence Study Group and Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, Chair of the Faculty of History, and President of Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University, England

The mission of the International Spy Museum is to educate the public about espionage in an engaging way and to provide a context that fosters understanding of its important role in and impact on current and historic events. The Museum focuses on human intelligence and reveals the role spies have played in world events throughout history. It is committed to the apolitical presentation of the history of espionage in order to provide visitors with nonbiased, accurate information.

The Museum features artifacts used by or for intelligence services around the world and supports them with historic photographs and information that provide a context of time and place. Interactive displays, film, and video address the strategies and practices of the profession. Exhibits include:

School for Spies: This section provides orientation into the world of espionage and describes the skills essential to a spy. It explores the different motivations that lead people into the profession, how they are recruited and trained, and describes the spy’s most common operating styles and areas of expertise.

Over 200 espionage devices illustrate the various technical aspects of espionage. Interactive exhibits present such aspects of spying as observation and analysis, threat analysis, overhead surveillance, disguise and identification, audio surveillance, and clandestine photography.

The Secret History of History This series of galleries chronicles the history of spying from biblical times to the early 20th century. It explores such phenomena as the institutionalization of spying in the early years of the Soviet Union and traces the rise of espionage technology, such as spy photography. It also reveals the role that women have played in espionage, highlighting the legendary, yet unsuccessful, Mata Hari, as well as lesser-known but more accomplished female spies. Other well-known historical figures are unmasked as spymasters or spies, such as George Washington and author Daniel Defoe (father of the British Secret Service).

Spies Among Us: Through a series of exhibits, films, and videos, this section examines espionage through both World Wars, showcasing real-life spy stories. The role of code-making and code-breaking operations is explored through various exhibits, including: the Enigma cipher machine; the Navajo Codetalkers, whose native language provided an unbreakable code for the Allied Forces during World War II; and the very beginnings of computer technology. Interactive exhibits teach various ways to create, break, and hide coded messages. An exhibit on celebrity spies includes: singer Josephine Baker, who worked for the French Resistance; noted Chef, Julia Child; and actress Marlene Dietrich, who recorded pop songs for the OSS that were broadcast to German soldiers as American propaganda.

The section covering World War II also details the intelligence blunders surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor, the use of misinformation and propaganda throughout the war, and the sabotage and subversion employed by spies working behind enemy lines in France. Other issues addressed include the pivotal role of allied intelligence in successful D-Day deceptions and the American development and loss of the secrets of the atomic bomb.

War of the Spies: The Cold War, a period characterized by mistrust and suspicion, is explored in this section. Post-war Berlin is used as the backdrop for extensive exhibits detailing the Berlin Tunnel, a massive CIA and British wiretap of telephone lines between East Berlin’s Soviet military headquarters and Moscow; and the Stasi, the most effective internal security force and external intelligence gathering organization in the world.

The development of sophisticated espionage technologies such as spy planes and satellites as well as the use of microtechnology in listening and tracking devices is also presented. The McCarthy hearings, the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Red Scare are examined, reflecting a time in the United States when seemingly no one was above suspicion and spies were sought after in nearly every neighborhood.

The impact of espionage on popular culture and the myth and mystique of the spy that it engendered are also explored. The fiction and romance of the spy provided an escape from the paranoia and tension of the Cold War where the public could vicariously triumph over evil. Mythic spies and agencies from the movies, television and literature –ranging from James Bond to Maxwell Smart to Austin Powers — are featured alongside the consumer products and games they inspired.

All is Not What It Seems: The final section of the Museum addresses espionage in the 21st century. The Museum’s Operations Center, staffed by espionage specialists, tracks current events in the fast breaking world of international espionage. At various times, temporary exhibits on current espionage-related issues will also be displayed.


The International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum, Washington, D.C.


The International Spy Museum is located at 800 F Street in Washington, D.C.’s historic Penn Quarter, within 4 blocks of the National Mall, directly across the street from the National Portrait Gallery. It is open every day, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Admission fees are $11, adults; $8, children and students, grades K - 12 or ages 5 - 18; Free, children under age 5.
Tel: 866.SPY MUSEUM

The International Spy Museum Web Site : http://www.spymuseum.org


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