Spy Museum


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By Glynn Cosker
Managing Editor, In Homeland Security

The International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., recently introduced a series of webinars, virtual field trips and other online events in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – which has closed museums and other gathering places for the foreseeable future.

Largest Display of International Espionage Artifacts

The International Spy Museum, opened in 2002, is dedicated to all aspects of historical and modern-day espionage and features the world’s largest display of international espionage artifacts. The museum has interactive exhibits and a wide range of cultural and educational programs for students, adults, and families.

Virtual Spy Chat At The Spy Museum

With its doors closed now due to the coronavirus, the museum is transforming some of its popular physical exhibits and programs into virtual editions, and on April 2, it conducted the first of many “Virtual Spy Chat” webinars featuring its executive director, Chris Costa.

Costa, a graduate of American Military University, spent more than three decades as an intelligence officer and was recently Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Counterterrorism on the National Security Council (NSC).

“Although the physical spy museum is closed, our education team continues to work remotely and virtually to ensure that we can execute our education mission during these unprecedented times,” stated Costa at the beginning of the webinar.

Costa was joined by Michael Lacombe – a 28-year veteran of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations for the unique hour-long webinar that included a vibrant Q&A session in its final third.

The museum’s director of adult education, Amanda Ohlke, led the webinar and facilitated the Q&A session.

Coronavirus, Terrorism, Disinformation, And ISIS

During the Virtual Spy Chat webinar, Costa focused on the coronavirus pandemic, the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, terrorism, counterterrorism and other related topics. Lacombe focused on ISIS, Iraq, disinformation practices, the Patriot Act, and other topics. The Q&A segment of the webinar featured participants inquiring on various subjects including bioterrorism, disinformation, terrorism, Venezuela, North Korea and – of course – the coronavirus.

Some of the International Spy Museum’s upcoming virtual events include:

  • Virtual Spy Trivia: “Test your spy knowledge with a live online trivia game about the real and the fictional wilderness of mirrors.”
  • Curator’s Corner: “A live online discussion of how intelligence analysts might look at the information coming in about the novel coronavirus and the questions they are likely getting from policymakers about its implications.”
  • Spies & Spymasters Virtual Happy Hour: A look at the spies who live in the museum’s Spies & Spymasters Gallery with a local bartender shaking up a cocktail and sharing the recipe for participants.
  • Spy School 101: A live online program from the educators at the museum.

You can find a list of all of the ongoing virtual International Spy Museum attractions – and other information on the museum – by visiting their website.