The International Spy Museum

The International Spy Museum – James Bond and Maxwell Smart Copycats!

The International Spy Museum is located in Washington D.C. It’s the most bizarre museum I have ever visited!

Ever thought that all of the gadgets in Get Smart and all the James Bond Movies were too good to be true?

Well they’re not..

spy-museumI confirmed this when I went to visit the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C.

This bizarre but fascinating museum contained an amazing collection of ‘superseded’ gadgets that were used in espionage in years gone by, especially during the height of the Cold War.

The International Spy Museum had gadgets like a lipstick gun, the necktie camera, a shoe radio transmitter and a pigeon camera.

I found the pigeon camera the most interesting –  since there were no such things as spy satellites during the 1920’s, homing pigeons had a camera strapped to them so they could fly over a target area to capture images that were timed to be taken every few seconds.

In some of the images shown at The International Spy Museum, you can see the pigeons wings on either side of the shot.

It’s no wonder the CIA were monitoring the Get Smart show during the 1960’s to work out new ideas!

Also, the lengths of espionage during the Cold War were almost ridiculous – the U.S. and Soviet Union embassies took ages to build because each side were accusing the other of placing bugs in the wall – so metal detectors were an essential form of construction equipment.

However, there was a solution to this – mix metal shrapnel into the concrete mixture so that it was impossible for a bug to be detected.

The International Spy Museum – Imitating The Movies!

So if you do see a ridiculous gadget in any spy movie – it’s probably already been developed by your country’s spy agency and it’s already superseded, finding a home in The International Spy Museum.

You can read more at Secret Agent’s Handbook: The WWII Spy Manual of Devices, Disguises, Gadgets, and Concealed Weapons.

Other things to do in the U.S. after visiting The International Spy Museum – confirm many times that Americans can in fact brew Great Beer, and check out some gun wielding locals on Google Maps.

About Anthony The Travel Tart

The Travel Tart writes about the funny, offbeat and weird aspects of world travel today. Travel wasn't meant to be taken too seriously! Check out ways to say hi below or sign up for his silly newsletter!

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  1. SandyU SandyU
    October 7, 2009    

    And if you go to the Spy Museum, you really should plan to play the extra-fee Operation Spy game… you’re grouped for about an hour with other visitors to play through a scenario which involves puzzle-solving, teamwork, and mad dashes to avoid capture. We played it with our two adult children and a random other family, and it was a blast!

  2. Thomas Thomas
    June 7, 2010    

    I would have absolutely loved this place when I was younger (and probably still would now), I was obsessed with being either a spy or a detective. I even had those oversize sunglasses with mirrors so that you could see people behind you.

  3. April 24, 2015    

    What a cool place! I bet the kids would just love it. Adding it to the list of places I want to see!!

    I write travel guides for kids and will add this to my ebook on Washington Dec!

    Thanks for the great post!
    Natalie, The Educational Tourist

  4. September 23, 2015    

    Anthony, great post! We think it’s really interesting how spy games led to the creation of so many cool gadgets and tools that could be used to take photos, gather data, etc. Looking back on history, it’s a shame that so many of these gadgets were created out of a sense of necessity for keeping up with our enemies, but on the flip side, we’re glad we live in a time when companies like Google and Apple are making cool gadgets simply out of a desire to innovate and make life easier.

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