Spy adventure on a rainy day

As I mentioned in the previous post: it rained pretty badly last week-end. So badly. When it rains like that, you pretty much just want to stay inside, either rolled up in a fluffy blanket watching your favourite TV show, or you could opt for a little cultural, yet fun, afternoon? That’s what Julien and I decided to do. We had to spend some time in the rain unfortunately, but spent most of our afternoon at the International Spy Museum!
IMG_4362It was rather busy but that was no surprise: Sunday afternoon, rain. It pretty much sums up families taking their children out for a fun and educational time. So yes, lots of children. But it takes more to kill our fun (or sometimes less… I don’t know, we’re both pretty complicated).
IMG_4278 First we walked in a room where various secret agent identity profiles were displayed and we had to pick one but not tell anyone. I am not sure why as it wasn’t brought up again later during the visit – however I did see one of the museum agents come up to a visitor and ask them questions about their spy identity… But that was it.
IMG_4241 We saw the logos of all the secret services in the world, including MI5.
IMG_4245 IMG_4246 On to the real stuff. The exhibition was sooooo big, it seemed never-ending after a while. Don’t get me wrong: never-ending doesn’t mean boring. Far from that. We saw a lot of cool stuff.
It first started with facts about the world of spying. Names of spies, espionnage in History, what skills spies must have and we even had little test activities to see if we had the reflexes required to be like 007. Example: you’d have an image, and you’d have to spot sceptical objects or behaviours, places that could be “dead drops” (=a way for spies to trade information or objects), such as this “Pandora box”, used by soviet spies in America during the cold war – they would leave a chalk mark on the letter box to warn other spies that valuable and secret information would be soon given).

We then saw a LOT of gadgets, from hidden cameras in cigarette packs to gun lipsticks (you can notice that spying really involves style, very James Bond.).
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We also had to go through an air vent to see if we could be as silent as cats, just like a spy would be.
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There were also very cool cars, which you’ve probably seen in James Bond movies ;)
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We got to see more facts afterwards. Such as espionnage during the wars. It’s crazy how they really did play an important role in many events we must know about our dear History, and yet they’re rarely mentioned… We also saw that famous celebrities of the time served as spies. Such the actress Marlene Dietitch, or Julia Child!
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You will find a little bit of French History there with the inevitable Affaire Dreyfus – it obviously includes Zola’s “J’accuse” ;)
IMG_4266 Espionage in Literature is well known thanks to Ian Flemming.

Is someone fancying a uniform?

I’ve brought up James Bond a few times already. That’s nothing compared to the James Bond exhibition they have. Wow. You have all the costumes of the vilains, the gadgets, and it also makes you reflect on the actual and current global problems that James Bond movies always renew.
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So yes, very long exhibition that I totally recommend as it is very instructive but also fun. A perfect way to kill a rainy afternoon ;)
It was also followed by Operation Spy! It’s an optional activity, that you usually do before the exhibition. We did it after. Don’t get me started on why, it’s a long story.
unfortunately photos aren’t allowed in there but it’s a lot of fun! You’re a small group of 10 and you have one hour to accomplish a mission and solve a mystery. It’s not as exciting and doesn’t boost your adrenaline as much as would a real 007 mission unfortunately but it is still entertaining; I would recommend it to teens between 12 and 16. Over that, it’s just nice, or you do it because you’re taking a younger sibling I guess.
I think it will have been the only cultural thing I’ll have done in DC this time. Oh well, can’t be nerds all the time, right?