Considered to be the country's only public museum devoted to the history of global espionage, the International Spy Museum teems with multimedia displays, hands-on activities, and educational events. Filled with low-lit halls and mysterious doors, the museum backs up its exhibits with experience; many of its board members, staff, and speakers are former spies. Executive Director Peter Earnest, for one, spent more than 35 years in the CIA and its National Clandestine Service; frequent speaker Oleg Kalugin once held a position as major general of the KGB. Through special talks and an array of exhibits, the group reveals several hundred years of spy techniques and gadgetry, showcases connections between real spies and pop culture, and draws from international backgrounds to grant a global perspective.
In the School for Spies exhibit, visitors peruse glass cases filled with submarine recording systems, buttonhole cameras, and audio bugs spanning more than 60 years of OSS, CIA, and KGB activity. Children test spy tactics and midnight kitchen infiltration as they crawl through a mock ventilation system, and visitors of all ages can inspect an Aston Martin DB5 from the film Goldfinger. Groups can walk through a re-created stretch of the Berlin Tunnel, and a spy code begs to be cracked in the Spies Among Us exhibit. For an additional charge, guests can opt to embark on a simulated covert mission entirely based on real intelligence case files in Operation Spy, a one-hour interactive exhibit during which participants ride in simulated truck beds and use video surveillance to find leaked nuclear-trigger technology in a fictional country.