Sunday, June 13, 2010

International Spy Museum

Interesting, entertaining, family-friendly, and interactive all describe the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. It is not one of the free Smithsonian museums, but it is worth the cost.

The first task is to choose a new identity. There are plenty of them to choose from, young and old. After assuming the new identity it is time to embark on the mission.

Using your stealth, crawl through an air vent trying to make as little noise as possible to avoid detection. "Recruits"  read about listening devices and then listen in on conversations elsewhere in the museum because not only do you read about them, they are planted! There are also hidden cameras throughout the museum.

You can listen to encrypted messages and try to decode them. You can watch educational films on devices spies use whether it is to break into a locked room or radio equipment and spy gear.

The museum provides a walk through history. Visitors learn about celebrity spies and how it has been used, even back to the Trojan horse and “Ninjitsu” or Ninjas. Then there is the secret police of Russia, or USSR.

Other films and exhibits talk about modern technology. It makes one think just how hard would it be for something like that to happen.

One of the things that made me think the most was a Donald Duck cartoon. We learn about propaganda in school. We don’t usually get the chance to actually see it. It is interesting to think these cartoonists would make messages like this encouraging higher taxes to support the war effort.

If you are in the area and have time, I would recommend taking the Gallery-Chinatown metro stop and checking out the International Spy Museum yourself. Just remember, if you are thinking of breaking their rules, the spies are watching you.

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