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CIA Museum Provides a Glimpse into Intelligence History

Visit a place where few have ever gone — the CIA Museum at our Headquarters in Langley, Va. Though closed to the general public, here is your chance to see the museum and take a unique glimpse into the world of intelligence.

The CIA Museum now is opening its doors — virtually — to give you an opportunity to take a look inside. The online showcase offers a look at some of the most-highly regarded technologies, communication devices, and cameras of our past, and items reflective of more recent operational successes.

As a fixture of the CIA for more than 35 years, the CIA Museum’s collection includes material associated with the CIA’s predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services; foreign intelligence organizations; and the CIA itself. The collection includes clothing, equipment, weapons, insignia, and other memorabilia that give a unique perspective to the Agency’s history. Many of the objects in the museum were designed, manufactured, and used specifically for intelligence operations.

From its modest beginning, the CIA Museum is now the preeminent national archive for the collection, preservation, documentation, and exhibition of intelligence artifacts, culture, and history. And the museum continues to expand, with plans to add another exhibit this year. “On the Front Lines: CIA in Afghanistan” will reflect the Agency’s work in the War on Terror with significant artifacts and stories of officers who made Operation Enduring Freedom a success.

Before the CIA Was the CIA

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was the CIA’s forerunner. Rich in history, the OSS left behind a legacy. In the CIA Museum virtual tour, visit the OSS display case that features the personal effects reflecting the career of Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan, the head of OSS, as well as numerous examples of OSS tradecraft:

  • Caltrop (Tire Spike)

  • Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife

  • US Army M-209 Cipher Device

  • “Matchbox” Camera

  • Letter Removal Device

  • OSS Patch

The CIA is known for its innovative technologies. Here is just a sampling of the gadgets showcased in the online virtual tour:

  • "Belly Buster" Hand-Crank Audio Drill

  • CIA Semi-Submersible

  • Dragonfly Insectothopter

  • Lithium-Iodine Battery

  • Robot Fish "Charlie"

  • “Dead Drop” Spike

  • Microdot Camera

  • Pigeon Camera

  • Bodyworn Surveillance Equipment

Though much of the CIA’s work and successes are held secret, the Agency has shared some things with the public. In the online tour, see some artifacts that reflect the operational successes in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf War:

  • Al-Qa’ida Training Manual

  • Lapis Lazuli

  • Persian Gulf War Leaflets

Take a walk through the virtual museum and see all the online artifacts:



Historical Document
Posted: Jul 19, 2007 09:43 AM
Last Updated: Jun 20, 2008 09:02 AM