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CIA Celebrates International Museum Day With New Publication

In celebration of International Museum Day 2015, for the first time we are making available to the general public a behind-the-scenes guide to the CIA Museum: Notes From Our Attic – A Curator’s Pocket History of the CIA [PDF 18.8 MB]. Inside, you’ll find striking photographs of several artifacts we have on display, some of which are not yet in the virtual gallery, and learn how artifacts can illuminate history in a way words alone cannot.

What we do here is tell the story of the Central Intelligence Agency through a selection of the artifacts collected by the CIA Museum, often called “The Best Museum You’ve Never Seen” because we display our artifacts in their true CIA context – but only staff and official visitors to the CIA Headquarters compound can see them. This is part of an initiative to share our treasures with a wider audience. Because we are interpreting history through artifacts, our catalog is a little different from other forms of history that start with a narrative and may or may not use photographs and maps to illustrate a story. We start with what we have in the collection and use artifacts to reconstruct the history of the Agency. The result is more impressionistic and less linear than other histories, but we hope it will be just as memorable and informative. From the Preface of “A Curator’s Pocket History of the CIA”

We have also curated our top featured story articles on the CIA Museum, which you can find below. You’ll discover information on how our exhibits are created, the CIA’s intelligence art collection, our most popular galleries, and the people behind the museum who make the magic happen. As always, you can visit the virtual CIA Museum anytime from our online tour and gallery page.

We hope you enjoy these behind-the-scenes glimpses inside “the best museum you’ve never seen.”

A storyboard drawing for the OSS Gallery
How Ideas Become Exhibits in the CIA Museum

The artifacts, photographs, and other objects in the CIA Museum are not just collector’s items; they illustrate stories that describe our history. How does an idea to tell a story become an exhibit in the CIA Museum and eventually in the CIA Museum online? Read more to find out.

Inform Instruct InspireThe CIA Museum: The People Behind the Magic

The halls of the CIA Museum artfully display and remind Agency officers of their history. But not many people pause to think about the work that goes into putting together an exhibit. The people that make these exhibits come to life are the staff of the CIA Museum.

'Untouchable' is just one of the paintings in the CIA's Intelligence Art Collection. It depicts the first operational flight of the A-12 on May 31, 1967.
CIA’s Intelligence Art Collection: Commemorating History, Inspiring the Future

Paintings or sculptures often convey the drama of an event more powerfully and immediately than the written word. Works of art can bring to life history that may be unknown to new employees or has been lost in time among veterans. The artworks comprising the CIA’s Intelligence Art Collection are inspired by significant events in Agency history and were donated to the CIA as gifts to the US government.

CIA Museum Featured on Yahoo! News

In 2014, the CIA Museum opened its doors to Yahoo! News. Toni Hiley, the CIA Museum Director, provided a rare look inside the museum, which included artifacts from key moments in CIA's history.

Aircraft style walkway in OSS Gallery
CIA Museum Unveils Newly Renovated OSS Gallery

The CIA Museum in 2011 opened a completely redesigned gallery featuring the Agency’s forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). To celebrate the opening, former members of the OSS, their families, and invited guests received a private tour of the new OSS Gallery, where they reminisced about OSS and their World War II experiences.

Cold War Museum
CIA Museum Cold War Gallery
The CIA Museum: Looking Back to See the Future

CIA officers are reminded of the Agency’s past every time they walk through the halls of Headquarters in McLean, VA. One CIA institution shines a light on the past to illuminate the future: the CIA Museum, under the aegis of the Center for the Study of Intelligence.

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 has opened its doors — virtually — to give you an opportunity to take a look inside.

Posted: May 21, 2015 10:19 AM
Last Updated: May 21, 2015 12:33 PM