Designer Mission: a visit to the International Spy Museum in D.C.

Designer Mission: a visit to the International Spy Museum in D.C.

by | Blog, Museums and Cultural Institutions | 0 comments

Spy Guide and Tickets from International Spy MuseumI love being a graphic designer. Creating in my studio is my favorite part of the day. But, in order to keep the creative juices flowing I regularly look for inspiration. It can be hiking or gardening, but I also really enjoy visiting museums and other cultural institutions, that is where my designer mission comes into play. Last summer, I stated I wanted to see the vast array of cultural spots around New York City. I had hoped to hit one a month. Well, I ended up hitting one a quarter. So, I’ll continue this journey on the more doable quarterly basis and let you know what’s worth seeing and why.

This latest visit didn’t take me to NYC at all, I ended up down in D.C. for a day with my son and nephews. With just a day to explore and knowing we wanted to see the major monuments along the National Mall we needed to focus on one museum. Number one on the boy’s list was the International Spy Museum, it made sense because of our limited time and who hasn’t imagined being a spy when they were a kid?

I admit to being a little miffed in paying to get in (most of the museums in D.C. are free) but the International Spy Museum delivered and I would gladly go back. From the beginning when you are waiting outside (even on a hot, summer day) they tell you what to expect, how long it should take and keep it moving. Their general admission gives you access to the largest collection of espionage-related artifacts ever placed on public display and you get to adopt a cover, break codes, and identify disguised spies. We were given a “Spy Guide” to help navigate our way through the museum which was really a great way to say floor plan. They even let you pick a cover and see a short film before you go through the exhibit. There are interactive displays and some of them challenge if you memorized your cover. I learned that Josephine Baker helped the French government, Edgar Allen Poe was a code breaker and Ian Fleming was, in fact, a spy during the Second World War. As a Bond fan, I really enjoyed the new 007 exhibit “Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villians”. It was a quick two-hours that entertained us all and that can be a tough job with two tweens and a teen.

Had we more time we would have added Operation Spy or Spy in the City, both looked great. Operation Spy says “Think of it as a live action spy adventure. Only you’re the spy. This one-hour, adrenaline-fueled mission is no exhibit.” Check out their website and put it on your list the next time you are in D.C.

Mission accomplished, I left inspired.


Hi, I’m Jeanine, I produce attention-grabbing designs for non-profits that resonate with your donors. Whether you need a direct mail appeal package or collateral materials for a virtual event or gala, my personalized service helps solve your design challenges. Contact me to discuss your next design project.

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