Yesterday I stumbled upon an article about the CIA Museum in CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. I didn’t even KNOW the CIA had a museum (of course I didn’t; it’s the CIA…lol). Smithsonian Magazine was granted a private tour of the collections, which are available only to CIA employees, their families, and visitors on agency business.
Nonetheless, the article had some great photos of some of the artifacts in the museum, along with some info and stories behind them. Super cool. And creepy, from a “holy crap look at all this cloak-n’-dagger stuff we don’t know and OMG this is totally the tip of the nontransparent iceberg and what else is government up to” perspective.
Anyway, I love cloak-n’-dagger stuff and that article reminded me of my visit to the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC.
I’m a huge fan of museums in general, but some really suck you right in, like the ISM. There’s an immersive, interactive spy experience in which you are given a briefing and a mission:
Decrypting secret audio conversations, penetrating and escaping from a high-security compound, as well as interrogating a suspect agent are all part of your mission. Your pulse will quicken as you evade capture and search for hidden evidence. Who knows what could happen should the trigger fall into the wrong hands. One false move could have serious consequences. You’ll have to remind yourself it’s only a game.
Check out the video here.
And take a virtual tour of the museum here.
There are awesome exhibits throughout this museum; I only had 2 hours to kill, and that was totally not enough. I could’ve spent 2 days in there, and I’m planning a return visit to make sure I get double the 2 hours, at least.
I bring this museum up because a museum is a writing tool. Really good museums that provide some cool interactive experiences can help fire your creative juices, especially if you’ve been maybe in a writing rut or feeling uninspired. Museums, in a sense, are like plots. They’re organized in a specific way, they provide setting, history, context, and in some cases, a story and characters, as in the ISM. They’re designed to get you thinking outside your boxes, and to learn something and/or see something in a different way. You can also contact museum staff (many of whom are experts in a particular aspect of the museum’s collections and the overarching field in general) to provide information for a novel you’re researching. So in that sense, a museum is a resource in many different ways for writers.
And if you’re a mystery/thriller writer and/or aficionado and you’re planning a trip to DC, definitely check out this museum. It’s not just for writers. 😀