Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners' US$162m spy museum opens its doors

by Andrew Manns | 16 May 2019

The long-awaited International Spy Museum (SPY) – has officially opened to the public in Washington, D.C.

Designed by Rogers Stirk + Partners and Hickok Cole Architects, the revamped 11,400 sq m facility features the world's largest collection of espionage artefacts.

The firms' US$162m (€144.7m, £126.5m) intervention saw the museum gain a rooftop terrace, retail and lobby areas, and three floors of exhibits.

The attraction also boasts a new set of interactive and narrative-based galleries and installations by Gallagher & Associates (G&A), including an infinity mirror room and an RFID-powered simulator.

"Our vision for the new SPY invites the audience into a world of intrigue – a personal exploration that immerses visitors into the experience of living their cover," explained Cybelle Jones, principal at G&A.

She added: "Through objects, immersion, light, and media, the visitor becomes the subject, and the exhibits become the stage."

Another key experience is "Red-Teaming", a game that lets participants take on the role of the US president and employ strategic techniques to recreate the process of locating Osama bin Laden.

"We thought it was vitally important to address spying in the post 9/11 world, and operations we could not have even imagined 17 years ago," commented Milton Maltz, founder of SPY.

Speaking on the opening, Anna Slafer, the museum's vice president of exhibitions and programs, said: "We hope our visitors will walk out of SPY's doors empowered by their new knowledge of the intelligence world, understanding its role in our lives and world events – as well as how their oversight responsibilities as citizens can help shape that role."

Rogers Stirk Harbour  International Spy Museum  Gallagher & Associates  Hickok 
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The long-awaited International Spy Museum (SPY) – has officially opened to the public in Washington, D.C. Designed by Rogers Stirk + Partners and Hickok Cole Architects, the revamped 11,400 sq m facility features the world's largest collection of espionage artefacts. The firms' US$162m (€144.7m, £126.5m) intervention saw the museum gain a rooftop terrace, retail and lobby areas, and three floors of exhibits. The attraction also boasts a new set of
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The International Spy Museum (SPY) features a number of interactive exhibits that explore post-9/11 security issues. / Photo by Nic Lehoux
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