Yes, the CIA has a museum. No, you can’t visit. And that’s too bad: The series of galleries—13,000-square-feet in all—is an intriguing destination. A revamped website IS, however, open for you to dive into (CIA.gov) to see the declassified art and artifacts.
FAIRBAIRN-SYKES FIGHTING KNIFE: >
Brits W.E. Fairbairn and E.A. Sykes designed a deadly, compact and effective blade for stabbing vital organs during hand-to-hand combat in ‘41. Still in service.
< U-2 PRESSURE SUIT AND HELMET:
Spy pilots? Us? OK, you caught us. The U-2 spy plane in the mid-1950s flew in -70F temps and at altitudes that made blood boil. These suits kept the pilots alive.
^ ELEPHANT COUNTER:
If your native spy helpers can’t read or write English, they can use this ingenious device to report how many troops, trucks and elephants marched down the path.
In the ‘70s, this gas-powered robotic dragonfly was a first in radio-controlled gadetry. It was to deliver a listening device—a bug! Alas, crosswinds prevailed and prevented practical use.
A video near the artifact’s display case shows how realistic this robotic catfish swam through the water. Not only would you catch it, you’d try to bread it and fry it.
The German three-rotor cipher machine offered 15 billion combinations of code to befuddle the Allies. Still, by the end of the war we were reading 10 percent of Germany’s messages.
IMAGES COURTESY OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY