Peter Earnest, Founding Director of the International Spy Museum, Dies at 88
WASHINGTON - February 13, 2022 - We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our long-serving founding executive director and dear friend Peter Earnest. Peter was a defining voice in the development of the Spy Museum more than 20 years ago. His incomparable leadership and enthusiastic determination guided us to create a new kind of institution.
Peter’s career as a public servant spanned 36 years with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including over 20 years in the Clandestine Service. In his final posting with the Agency, he served as principal spokesman, developing and implementing a strategy of greater openness with the media and the public to promote better understanding of the CIA’s vital role in protecting national security.
After his retirement from government, it was a natural transition to lead the Spy Museum where he continued to shed light on the shadow world of intelligence increasing public understanding of its crucial impact on world events. During his 16-year tenure, the Museum launched an acclaimed temporary exhibition and a groundbreaking immersive experience, transitioned to a non-profit institution, and broke ground on a purpose-built structure in DC’s L’Enfant Plaza.
Upon his retirement in 2017, Peter transitioned to the Board of Directors continuing to support the Museum and its educational mission. His steadfast devotion to the Museum and its staff was an inspiration to all. He was kind, highly intelligent, curious minded, and had a captivating charisma about him. Peter was a cornerstone of our organization, and he will live on in everything that we do. His family, including his incredible wife Karen, will forever be a part of our Spy Museum family, too. We will miss him immeasurably.