Washington is a city I’ve never visited, so when the opportunity presented to attend the recent Girl Up summit with my daughter, I headed straight for Google to check out what else we could see and do while we were in town.
As a child who was raised on a steady diet of Get Smart, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys which subsequently matured into devouring Tom Clancy and David Baldacci novels, imagine my excitement when I discovered that Washington has its very own Spy Museum! The cherry on top was the fact you could also sign up for an interactive spy mission, which took the excitement factor to ridiculous levels.
Never had it seemed more appropriate to be wearing Google Glass and I particularly loved that in the mission, phones had to be packed away (spies need both hands free to deal with the unexpected) Glass was okay because it’s hands free.
The interactive mission saw us track operatives and suspects utilising a variety of surveillance devices, conduct a search of a suspects home, interrogate a double agent via a lie detector and ultimately emerge successful with all operatives in tact and the nuclear device safely recovered. It was an outcome we felt quite smug about after seeing the previous group shuffle out dejectedly, having lost three of their operatives during their mission!
After the success of our mission it was time to head into the museum proper, which was filled with the most amazing array of equipment and information a wannabe spy could ever hope for.
From glove guns to poison rings, injectable umbrellas — even glasses with a space to conceal the mandatory cyanide pill for use if captured — all the tools of the trade familiar from those many hours watching Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 in their ongoing war against KAOS were on display.
One section focused on the art of disguise:
While one of my favorites was the car demonstrating the various hiding spots which could be used when transporting people across borders!
All of this was combined with a fantastic array of interactive activities and games, which could have kept us happily entertained for days. When you eventually emerge at the end, it is via one of the most amazing museum gift shops I have ever seen. I was extremely grateful that the nine-year-old male member of the family was safely back in Australia or we may never have left; at least not without the need for multiple additional suitcases to carry the loot!
Glass provided the perfect way to capture photos of our visit and the museum’s mantra of ‘nothing is what it seems’ and ‘spies are all around us’ had many of the visiting school children identifiying me as the likely spy in their midst as a consequence. Nancy Drew, eat your heart out!