When one is on the trek for anything, whether it’s to find the love of your life, a criminal or information, you must have skills. I have felt that mine have been lacking in some manner since Monsieur is constantly slipping through my fingers. To find the answers I needed, I boarded the train from Penn Station in Baltimore to Washington, D.C. to speak to my contacts. The International Spy Museum, 800 F Street, NW is the real deal. This isn’t television but information pulled from real life events. Even the Advisory Board, is composed of scholars, practitioners and intelligence experts. This profession, second oldest to you know what, is the not so secret world that goes on around us everyday. Do we really know who our neighbors are? Who’s really watching us?
The museum opened on July 19th, 2002 and has since grown in popularity. It provides a global view of the impact that espionage has played in history. Your trip starts upstairs as you try your hand as a spy. Enter the Covers and Legends room, choose an identity and memorize the details of your character. Through audio/visual support you learn what it takes to maintain your cover. This is just an example of some of the rooms that you will come across. Cloak&Dagger gave examples of how messages were left in soda cans left in open wooded areas unbeknownst to anyone else and photos of people who were hidden in the grills of cars. You can view dagger weapons such as a tobacco pipe and glove pistols.
Throughout the museum you will find the things that Hollywood movies are made of, for example, invisible ink, buttonhole cameras and bugging techniques of all kinds. Learn how spies, taught to be shadows, learned to conceal and use poisons if caught. What’s fascinating is the history of those who reportedly, doubled as spies without our knowledge, such as Josephine Baker, an underground courier for the France Resistance. Marlene Dietrich, German movie star, American patriot and professional ball player Moe Berg. The International Spy Museum is exciting and fun as it taps into the imagination while teaching the history of what surrounds us everyday. So if you think you may have what it takes for secrecy, try your hand at Operation Spy. For one hour you must locate a missing nuclear trigger before the enemy does. Proceed to decode messages, crack a safe and interrogate a questionable double agent. If you succeed we will all live another day, if not, say your prayers and find shelter!
After a rough day of espionage and covert operations, I traveled to the Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW. This historic building has been a part of the social and political scene since 1818. When you enter the lobby, take a look up towards the ceiling and notice every state seal represented. Afterwards, I entered Peacock Alley for a spot of tea, finger sandwiches and decadent sweets. The area is beautiful and relaxing with a touch of refinement. It’s just what a (female) spy needs while working as a double agent.