Tips for Families

Although the Museum’s primary audience is ages 9 and older, we know that younger children can have a really fun and fulfilling experience at the Museum with a bit of support.

Make sure to download SPY’s Family Highlight Guide prior to your visit or ask a staff member for a copy when you arrive.

In addition, below are some tips and tricks:

5th FLOOR (Where you will start your visit)

This floor is about how spying is done.

Briefing Center

This is the first gallery of the Museum after you get off the elevator from the lobby. Here you have the option to participate in Undercover Mission and explore our rotating exhibit space.

After you check-in for Undercover Mission, guests proceed to the Briefing Theater to watch a short film. Families with small children can skip this film by asking a SPY Staff member to direct them to the first gallery – Spies and Spymasters.

Spies and Spymasters

This gallery is all about how information (intelligence) is collected by humans. Depending on when you visit, this gallery may be crowded. Don’t miss the following interactives:

  • Dress for Success: Match Dmitri Bystrolyotov’s (a Russian spy) cover identities and dress him for his various missions. 
  • Lafayette’s Revolutionary Recon: Peer into a British officer’s trunk, then see what you can remember. 
  • Be Walsingham/Be Queen Elizabeth: Stick your face in a cut-out painting and become a “talking portrait.” (Great photo op!)
  • Walsingham’s Secret Code: Decipher some coded words in a letter from Sir Francis Walsingham.

The back wall of this gallery is filled with various spy gadgets in the Tools of the Trade section. For the animal lover in your group, check out the “Covert Critters” case!

Looking, Listening, Sensing

Check out this gallery to learn how information (intelligence) is collected using technology. Don’t miss the following interactives:

  • What’s Shakin’ Chinese Drum:  Press buttons to guess which level of shaking indicates that the enemy is close.
  • Problem Solving Under Pressure: Move the pilot higher in the air and see how his outfit changes as the air pressure decreases.
  • Gadget Lab: Create and test a gadget for your Undercover Mission!


Here you can learn about code making and breaking, and test your skills at several interactives:

  • Code Wall: Can you crack various coded messages using a Cardano Grille, Skytale, and a super-sized cipher wheel?
  • Code Cracker: Decode a secret message for your Undercover Mission!


This gallery is about taking collected information and making sense of it! At the entrance to this gallery, kids can

  • Peek Holes (at entrance to gallery): Kids can look inside the peek holes and tell you what they see! (Hint: They all have to do with predicting the future!)
  • Mind Games: Pay Attention: Watch the video and see how well you can pay attention—you never know, there might be a surprise or two thrown in there!
  • Ops Zone: Assess a scene for surveillance threats in your Undercover Mission.

Covert Action

Here guests will learn about secret missions that have occurred in history.

  • Hang Time: Depending on the child’s height, they can test their physical strength and hang onto a bar as if they are James Bond dangling in the air!
  • The Trojan Horse Video: Watch this animated short film to learn about the deception operation from ancient Troy. 
  • Can You Spot the Deception? Look into the peek holes in the Genghis Khan mural and see how the Mongols tricked their enemies. (Adult to help with label reading and understanding)
  • Duct Crawl: How quiet can you be? Crawl through the air duct without being heard!
  • Disguise Workshop (on landing outside this gallery)Transform your appearance to blend into your Undercover Mission environment!


This floor is about why spying is done. (There is less to see for young children on this floor.)

Cyber Infinity Room

While kids won’t understand the content of this video, the colors and shapes that appear on the mirrored walls and floor might intrigue them! 

*WARNING: This exhibit has sudden light changes and can cause motion-sickness.

License to Thrill

This gallery showcases pop-culture representations of espionage and intelligence.

  • Atomic Countdown: Kids will enjoy this fun, physical interactive that requires them to have a steady-hand like the game Operation. Just a heads up, it is located in a room where PG-13 film clips are playing in the background.  

Cold War Berlin

In this themed-out gallery, guests will feel as though they have traveled back in time Cold War East Germany.

  • Sneak into Berlin: Can you get into East Berlin without getting caught on camera?
  • Checkpoint Charlie: Meet a Stasi guard and his dog. Hint: look for your disguise photo here. (For children afraid of dogs, sneak in and out of Berlin through the cut out in the wall and you’ll be able to avoid direct contact with this screen.)
  • Trabi-Hide: Can you fit? Try to squeeze into and hide inside an East German Trabant car. Feel what it might have been like to escape this way!

Debriefing Center

Check out at one of the stations to find out the end of your Undercover Mission and your top two skills. At home, you can use the number on the back of your badge to access your full mission profile including your disguise and sneak in photo. Don’t forget to take your badge home!

For Agents 10 & Under

Family Highlights Tour

Top Secret Adventure For A Family of Spies: NETWORK- Family with junior agents under age 10. YOUR MISSION- Complete these operations in 90 minutes.
Complete The Tour
International Spy Museum

Exhibit Maps

Plan out your trip ahead of time with our curated exhibit maps. Spy Guide, Family Highlights, Undercover Mission, and Sensory maps are available to help you access everything the museum has to offer.
Spy Guide Map