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The Spy Museum Washington Dc

You Will Learn About Important Spies And Espionage Operations Throughout History

The International Spy Museum – Washington, DC

On the museums fifth floor, you can immerse yourself in the stories of spies that date all the way back to the 16th century. For the most part, these fascinating adventures are detailed through first-person video accounts by actors playing the spies, including Costa Ronin from The Americans, who takes on the role of Dmitri Bystrolyotov, a Russian intelligence officer who had no official cover, assumed dozens of identities and eventually spent 16 years in various Gulag camps. You can also get to know Queen Elizabeths spymaster and hear the tale of James Lafayette, an African American slave who spied for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Morten Storm is a former spy still around to tell his incredible story, in which he successfully infiltrated Islamic militant circles after spending years as an Islamic radical.


A Reimagined Spy Museum In Washington Doesnt Flinch From The Darker Side

Built for $162 million, the museum features flashy interactive exhibits but also grapples with intelligence failures, out-of-control surveillance and torture.

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WASHINGTON The intelligence craft in American history and culture is a decidedly mixed bag. It has served up intrigue, genius and heroism, clever undercover operations and brain-boggling gadgetry, making it a linchpin of popular entertainment. Yet the spy trade also has a darker strain: Prone to epic failures and frequently in ethical trouble, the agencies have been embroiled in recent years in scandals involving brutal torture and secret surveillance.

Think Bond and Bourne vs. waterboarding and warrantless eavesdropping.

The challenge taken on by the new, vastly expanded International Spy Museum, opening May 12 in a striking glass-and-steel building not far from the National Mall, was to capture all of these disparate threads. The curators had to appeal to rambunctious 8-year-olds along with somber retirees, tourists whose notion of intelligence comes from The Spy Who Loved Me and hypercritical visitors from the ranks of the C.I.A., the National Security Agency and all the secret crannies of the security state.

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Restaurants Near Spy Museum

There are a variety of restaurants located nearby the Spy Museum.

In LEnfant Plaza, immediately behind the museum building and down the stairs, you will find quick service restaurants. These are all budget-friendly places to eat and definitely geared towards school groups and local workers. The restaurants include:

  • Jamba Juice
  • Charleys Philly Steaks
  • Auntie Annes Pretzels
  • Subway
  • And more.

Fancier, sit-down restaurants can be found at The Wharf. Of course, there are some casual restaurants such as Five Guys and District Donuts. However, the majority are sit-down restaurants with full meals or happy hour specials. The Wharf is about a 7 minute walk away.

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You Can Embark On Your Own Undercover Mission Throughout Your Visit

When you begin your adventure through the new Spy Museum, make sure to check in to receive your Undercover Mission. You will be granted a lanyard, which you can use to scan at a kiosk to begin your solo operation. You will be asked several questions, the answers to which determine your mission, cover identity and expertise. From there, you continue your mission on kiosks throughout the exhibit rooms. Along the way, you will be challenged to analyze clues, keep your cover, find and contact sources, collect intel at dead drop sites and much more. Your skills are monitored throughout and when you get home, you can access a personal score sheet online through the information on your lanyard, which then leads to even more content.


Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Spy Test Your Skills By Going Undercover At The International Spy Museum In Washington Dc

International Spy Museum: Washington DC

Originally published on May 9, 2018, this article was updated on January 11, 2019 to inform you that the International Spy Museum is in the process of moving to a new location at LEnfant Plaza and is expected to re-open in Spring 2019. More information is available on the Spy Museum website.

A special thanks to the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC for inviting Louise and me to experience an afternoon of spying.

Its been said that Washington, DC, has more spies than any other city in the world. So theres no better place to spend a few hours going undercover and immersing yourself in a secret world than at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. At the corner of 9th and F Streets NW, just around the corner from the imposing J. Edgar Hoover Building that consumes an entire city block housing the FBI, the International Spy Museum fully engages your mind and imagination.

Pro Tip: The International Spy Museum is just a short walk from Fords Theatre, Madame Tussauds, and the Portrait Gallery. Select one of these additional Washington, DC experiences to round out your day at the International Spy Museum.

Pro Tip: Looking for the best place to stay in Washington DC based on your itinerary? Heres helpful advice on where to stay in Washington DC.

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International Spy Museum Parking Tips

  • There are 18,000 on-street metered spaces throughout the District of Columbia. Generally, the meters run from 7am-6:30pm Monday through Saturday Although, in some areas where there is a high demand, they run until 10pm. Metered parking costs $2.30 an hour citywide and requires payment by coins, at the kiosk or by cell phone.
  • International Spy Museum has partnered with Parking Panda and SpotHero, the nationwide leaders in online parking reservations, to allow visitors to purchase guaranteed parking near the museum. View real-time availability and pricing at many locations within easy walking distance to the International Spy Museum.
  • Once purchased, parking is 100% guaranteed even if the location otherwise fills up. Simply present your purchase confirmation at the selected location, and this serves as your payment with no additional payments or fees ever. Parking availability is very limited, so it is strongly recommended that you purchase your parking for the International Spy Museum in advance if driving.

International Spy Museum Reviews

The International Spy Museum is highly rated with consistently good reviews from guests of all ages. It is a popular choice for families with teenagers and adults who are young at heart and enjoy getting into interactive games.

Most negative reviews stem from its popularity as it can be crowded during peak times.

Insider Tip: The museum is less busy before 11 am and after 4 pm. It stays open late during the peak summer months.

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See All The Top Landmarks

Our carefully designed sightseeing tours take you closest to the Washington DCs famous landmarks.

Take in the neo-classical grandeur of the USAs capital city with Big Bus. Well take you to all the famous landmarks, including The White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, National Cathedral, and many more. Sit back, relax and capture the sights from our open-top double-deckers, or hop off to explore and visit the citys world-renowned attractions.

How Much Does It Cost To Go To The Spy Museum In Washington Dc

The International Spy Museum, Washington DC
General Admission Ticket Type
Senior , Military, Fire & Law Enforcement $14.95/$16.95

Then, how much does it cost to go to the Spy Museum?

Price: $0.00You are saving $2 per Adult, Senior, and Military ticket when purchasing general admission online!

Also Know, how long does it take to go through the Spy Museum in DC? about 2 hours

Also, is the Spy Museum in Washington DC Open?

How do I get to the Spy Museum?

The closest Metro station is L’Enfant Plaza .From the North:

  • Travel south on 9th street.
  • Travel through the 9th street tunnel.
  • Once on the south side of the tunnel take a right at the stop sign onto L’Enfant Plaza, SW.
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    What Is The Spy Museum

    The International Spy Museum is the only US museum that is solely dedicated to espionage and features the largest collection of espionage artifacts ever placed on public display. It is the only museum in the world to showcase a global perspective on the roles spies have played and on the men and women who have participated in this profession, shaping history and continuing to have a significant impact on global events.

    Don’t Pay Full Price: Save $2/per ticket when paying in advance with Trusted Tours or get 20% – 40% with several tourist attraction discount cards including the DC GO Card and CitySights Sightseeing cards. Learn more about these cards before paying full price for attractions and tours.

    Where Is The Spy Museum Located

    In Washington D.C., the International Spy Museum is located in LEnfant Plaza. It is a 7 minute walk from The Wharf and around a 10-15 minute walk from the Smithsonian Castle on the Washington Mall. From the Tidal Basin, it is about a 20-25 minute walk to the museum.

    The modern architecture building is in the same courtyard as the Hilton Washington D.C. National Mall. The LEnfant Plaza Metro station is just underneath the museum.

    It is located directly across from the United States Postal Service headquarters.

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    Assume Your Undercover Identity

    Your visit to the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC starts with an elevator ride upstairs to the spy intake center. Here you choose your undercover identity and must quickly memorize important details like your name, age, occupation, place of birth, and travel destination and be prepared to live your cover. Any inconsistency in your story could raise the suspicion of your targets, border agents, and others you interact with during your mission. The success of your mission, and potentially your life, depends upon convincing others that this fiction is fact.

    The first step in going undercover at the International Spy Museum is to choose your cover.

    Louise and I quickly selected our identities, not straying too far from reality. At age 11, she is tall for her age, so assuming the identity of Jane Meyer, a 13-year-old student from Tennessee traveling to Ireland for vacation wasnt too much of a stretch. However, between you and me, Louise really needs to work on her southern accent. As an American of German ancestry who actually lived in Germany as a kid, I felt comfortable spending my afternoon as Greta Schmidt, a German astronomer headed to London, England, on business for four days. Lets overlook the fact that shes 33 and hope that there is a good make-up artist to hide another decade of wrinkles to pull this off!

    Tickets To The International Spy Museum

    Richard Rogersâs All

    Don’t Pay Full Price: Save $2/per ticket when paying in advance with Trusted Tours or get 20% – 40% with several tourist attraction discount cards including the DC GO Card and CitySights Sightseeing cards. Learn more about these cards before paying full price for attractions and tours.

    Unlike the Smithsonian Museums, the International Spy Museum is a private museum and does charge admission.

    Tickets are timed entry tickets, which means you are free to enter the museum after the time printed on your ticket. You are able to re enter the museum throughout the day, as long as it is after the time printed on your ticket. Tickets can be purchased in advance, same day, and for larger groups.

    Advanced Tickets

    Tickets can be purchased in advance of your visit through the International Spy Museum website or by calling 202.654.0991 . You will be able to select the date, time, and quantity when you click Buy Tickets.

    It is recommended that you purchase tickets ahead of time, especially during the busier spring and summer seasons. This option will save you from having to wait to purchase same-day tickets, which can be up to an hour long.

    When purchasing tickets online, you have a choice on whether to print tickets at home or to pick up tickets at will call. Will call is located in the lobby of the museum at the same location where tickets can be purchased.

    Same Day Tickets


    Family Extras

    International Spy Museum Hours

    Security and Visitor Policies

    • Other Gallery Policies

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    Are Discount Codes Available

    We did not find any discount codes for the Spy Museum through AAA or other traditional places. When we checked into the Hilton National Mall, there was a QR code that offered a discount for Spy Museum tickets.

    Be sure to look into the Washington DC Sightseeing Pass for a ticket to the Spy Museum. This pass also includes a hop-on hop-off bus tour which might save you money if you plan on taking a bus tour, too.

    Youll See Ways In Which Spies Have Been Depicted In Popular Culture

    The fourth floor features License to Thrill: Our Favorite Spies, where visitors can watch clips from famous spy films and television shows, including The Americans, Salt and the Jason Bourne series. The gallery also includes testimonials from actual spies, who reveal the realism of these films and shows and discuss which spy stories impacted their work, as well as a wide range of artifacts that touches both The Avengers and Game of Thrones.


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    Is The International Spy Museum Worth It Our Review

    The Spy Museum in Washington D.C. is definitely worth it if you are fascinated by the world of James Bond, secret agents and unique technology that isnt a part of your normal life. If you are interested in how history has been shaped due to espionage and spies, this is the museum that you want to see.

    If you are not interested in the history of spying, or you dont care about important historical events in world history, then this museum is definitely not for you. If you get bored watching 007 movies, then dont bother spending time here.

    This James Bond Collection Boxed set is a definite must-have for any spy-thriller lover! We were really surprised at how inexpensive it is for 24 of the films!

    We absolutely loved our visit to the Spy Museum and would honestly go back. We visited during March 2022 and personally bought our tickets.

    From the moment that you walk into the lobby of the museum, you can instantly tell this is a modern attraction that is geared towards todays generation. The technology, lighting, video and interactive displays that the Spy Museum uses is appropriate for keeping visitors entertained and educated without getting bored.

    The spy badge is optional, but we highly recommend doing it. You will place your badge on a computer display and be asked a variety of questions. Depending on those answers, you will be assigned a spy name, a cover story, and given a mission to complete throughout your visit.

    Exhibits Are Now More International And Comprehensive

    The International Spy Museum – Washington, DC

    The new International Spy Museum journeys well beyond the Western focus of its first iteration. In total, 39 countries are featured in the museum, with spies from Asia, Europe and the Middle East all showcased. New exhibits also go into much deeper detail regarding the science, technology and analysis used in spycraft. Controversial topics, including the use of torture and secret surveillance, are also covered, with multiple perspectives shared that inspire rumination and debate.


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    What Is The International Spy Museum

    The International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. is a non-profit museum that reveals the behind-the-scenes secrets of intelligence gathering for national security. The museum tells a fascinating and interesting tale of espionage and how it has shaped the entire worlds history. Both successes and failures are shared in intelligence gathering over the centuries.

    All Types Of Spy Artifacts

    You can see the largest collection ever of spy artifacts here, from the 1950s to till date. The main highlights in this wonderful museum include covert listening devices, invisible ink letters, decipher machines, disguised weapons, forged currency, miniature cameras, disguises created by Hollywood, etc.

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    See How Spies Have Been Portrayed By Hollywood

    Whether your favorite fictional spy is:

    • One of the many sexy James Bonds,
    • Mission: Impossibles Ethan Hunt,
    • Angelina Jolies Evelyn Salt, or
    • Matt Damons Jason Borne

    no American spy experience would be complete without a Hollywood angle.

    A post shared by on May 4, 2018 at 6:50pm PDT

    One of the more fascinating exhibits was called Star Stories. Signs detailed the spy stories of stars like actress Marlene Dietrich, chef Julia Child, and baseball player Moe Berg.

    Fun Fact: Dont miss the Oscar on display at the International Spy Museum. It was awarded to John Ford for Best Documentary for The Battle of Midway in 1942.

    In a special exhibit on the main floor, the International Spy Museum presents Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains. In addition to the childrens book about a flying car turned Dick Van Dyke movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Ian Fleming also penned a series of 12 novels featuring British Secret Service agent, James Bond. While you may not be familiar with the books, you most likely have a strong opinion as to who is the best James Bond over the more than 50 years that the longest continually running film series of all time has been running.

    Speaking of the best Bond, maybe its you? An interactive exhibit lets kids of all ages compare their hang time against the worlds sexiest spy. Imagine hanging from a bridge or dangling from a flying helicopter. Now try it on an elevated chin up bar and see how you compare!

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