CIA's Intelligence Art Collection

Commemoration of the Historical, Inspiration for the Future

Toni Hiley

It is critical that we pass along to our thousands of new officers the accumulated wisdom and decades of experience that have made CIA the world’s premier intelligence service.

-General Michael V. Hayden, Studies in Intelligence Awards Ceremony, 13 December 2006

By the end of 2008, 52 percent of CIA’s workforce will have entered on duty since 11 September 2001. CIA’s history and museum programs provide institutional cohesion to communicate CIA’s corporate culture and identity during this demographic revolution. Recent additions to the Agency’s historical holdings include intelligence-themed paintings and sculpture that record for posterity the experiences of intelligence officers in peace and war.

CIA’s fine arts program—administered by its Fine Arts Commission since the 1960s—has benefited over the years from donations of sculptures and paintings that celebrate historical accomplishments in intelligence. The commission reviews donation proposals and, when it finds them appropriate, officially recommends works for acceptance. Before any work is accepted, however, Agency financial and legal officers, the Office of Security, and the Office of Public Affairs all consider the recommendation. The CIA Museum and History Staff of the Center for the Study of Intelligence advise the Fine Arts Commission on historical content.

As the following pages demonstrate, the drama of an event can often be conveyed in a painting or sculpture more powerfully and immediately than in a written volume. Such art, in addition, can bring to life history that may be unknown to new employees or that has been lost in time among veterans. The collection thus helps to illuminate the past and provide inspiration for the present and the future. The works shown in the following pages appear in the chronological order of the scenes they depict.


Looking Ahead

British aviation artist Keith Woodcock will add a third painting of his to the collection. This one, to be presented by the Air America Board, will depict Air America search and rescue operations in Laos during the 1960s. Jeff Bass has also been commissioned to provide a third painting. His will show a flight of B-26s flown by CIA contract pilots on a mission to support ground troops landed in the Bay of Pigs, Cuba, in April 1961.


Related Readings

Timothy N. Castle, One Day Too Long: Top Secret Site 85 and the Bombing of North Vietnam (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999)

William M. Leary and Leonard A. LeSchack, Project Coldfeet: Secret Mission to a Soviet Ice Station (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1996)

David Robarge, Archangel: The CIA’s Supersonic A-12 Reconnaissance Aircraft (Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, 2007)

Martin Windrow, The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam (New York: Da Capo Press, 2005)


Historical Document
Posted: Jun 20, 2008 09:26 AM
Last Updated: Jul 10, 2008 06:51 AM