Jim visited the International Spy Museum this past weekend and wrote up the following review of the event for CommanderBond.net readers;
The International Spy Museum is located on the 800 block of F Street in Washington, DC; diagonally across the street from the MCI Center. It contains the largest collection of international espionage artifacts around the globe.
You enter the museum (after purchasing a ticket – $11 Adult, $6 Child and Senior Citizen, and $8 if you are a member of the intelegence community) by riding up a elevator in which a computerized woman's voice tells you that you are a new agent in the spy organization and you will exit into a room where you will need to pick an alias, or cover. You are then ushered into a "Briefing Room" where you watch a video on spies. Then the computerized woman's voice returns and tells you that you must gain as much knowledge about espionage as you can before you may go on your mission. A new set of doors to the "Briefing Room" open and you are ushered into the museum. This whole setup was very cool although I was dissapointed that you could not choose to be a employee of Universal Exports as your cover.
In the begining, the different types of spying are explained : human inteligence and satalite inteligence. While the museum does not really focus on satalite intel, it does give a very thrurough explination of what it is and how it works. There is even a game where you are shown satalite photos and are asked to identify certain items. There are many other "games" throughout the museum; for example there is one on threat identification, and another on codes and cryptology.The interactiveness of the museum really helps to educate the visitors. The museum proceeds along in a timeline fashion begining with ancient times up through the present day. Begining in the halls dedicated to World War II and proceeding to the 21st century, the walls become lined with real-life gadgets that "Q" himself would have been pleased to have produced, such as a ring that contains a gun and glasses that contain a camera that even I couldn't find.
Now the important stuff: James Bond.
In the halls of the International Spy Museum, the coolest exhibit was of course, a working replica of the Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger. There is first a video on the wall about two other real-life spy vehicles, a mini-sub and a power boat, and then the action starts. The video ends and then the James Bond theme song starts blaring through the speakers. First the engine roars and the battering-ram bumpers shoot in and out, then the license plate spins, then the tire-slashers spin, then the bullet-proof sheild pops up, and finally the lighs flip down and the machine guns come out and fire. It is so amazing. The signs on the gaurd rail around the car explain how after Goldfinger came out, many inteligence services made "Q-Branch" like improvements to some of their vehicles and there is a list of examples.
Later on in the museum, towards the end, there is a room dedicated to James Bond and the spy-craze of the '60s. There are many cool colectors items in glass cases, such as a kite with Sean Connery's picture on it where he is portraying Bond wearing the Jet Pack in Thunderball, there are containers of "007 After Shave and Talc Powder", a toy briefcase as seen in Connery's movies, a huge poster from The Spy Who Loved Me, 007 playing cards, action figures, and various other things all still in their original condition. I was very dissapointed in the fact that only two of the actors who portrayed Bond were given head shots on the wall: understandably Roger Moore was given one and the other was given to none other than TIMOTHY DALTON!!!??? I was quite surprised at that. I mean he was in only two movies and only gave the caption that "The series was still going strong in the late '80's when Shakesperian actor Timothy Dalton was selected to portray James Bond." One has to wonder why he was chosen rather than either current star Pierce Brosnan or the one who many claim to be the best and the definitave James Bond: Sean Connery. Infact the only place Connery's picture was to be found was on the previously mentioned toys. I mean come on…I know that when I think of James Bond I don't think of Dalton. He made the second fewest movies, and they were mediocre ones at that.
Proceeding to the Store.
The store was one of the best parts. They had practically anything that a spy afficionado could want, except that the lady behind the counter explained that they were waiting for the James Bond DVD reissues (they had plenty of VHS tapes) and Ian Fleming book reprints to come in. You could even by a real briefcase! While not like the ones in the Bond films, they would make "Q" proud. They contained everything from a phone scrambler to a voice changer to a pair of sunglasses with a (VERY) hidden camera in them. All of these gadgets were really expensive though so if you want them, you had best save your money as they range in the thousands of dollars.
On the whole, the International Spy Museum was quite fun. I increased my knowledge greatly and got to see things that I had only read about in books. It was well worth the wait (I waited in line an hour and a half to get in) and I would love to go again…..and maybe ask someone about that Dalton picture…….ha ha just kidding. It is fun for the whole family and it gets a 5 out of 5 stars.
More information on the International Spy Museum can be found at its official site, http://www.spymuseum.org/.
A big thanks to Jim for sending in his review. It's greatly appreciated.