WJLA | Spy Museum launches construction on new SW DC location

The International Spy Museum is expanding and moving south to southwest D.C.

On Wednesday, the museum formally launched construction on its new facility in L’Enfant Plaza. At 140,000 square feet, it will be twice as big as the current museum on F Street NW.

In the crowd at the construction celebration, board members and guests included former NSA and CIA director General Michael Hayden and Dame Stella Rimington, the first female director general of MI5, said to be the inspiration for the character “M” in James Bond movies.

The new museum site will feature an exterior glass veil, symbolizing secrets hiding in plain sight.

“We’re not using the same architectural style, deliberately making something that looks completely different,” said architect Ivan Harbour.

To help finance construction, the District government offered a $50 million bond.

“It’s hugely important that this site is activated and it connects the Mall to the Wharf [development]. We know that will connect millions of people who are visiting to the new retail and restaurant establishments that will open at the Wharf,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

But in this concrete plaza, full of federal workers by day, empty at night, and tucked away from the National Mall, if you build it, is it certain tourists will actually come here?

Destination DC thinks so, pointing to the new waterfront development, plus the Museum of the Bible also going up nearby.

“So to have a major attraction like the Spy Museum as part of that renaissance of this area, clearly means that individuals will want to come to the southwest unlike before,” said Elliott Ferguson,

Destination DC President & CEO.

Earlier this year, the museum converted from commercial to non-profit. The museum’s founder Milton Maltz – a Navy veteran – says he wants Americans to appreciate the importance of intelligence to national security.

“We care about the educational aspect so much for future generations,” he said.

Throughout the construction, the museum will remain open at its current location on F Street. The projected opening for the new location in L’Enfant Plaza is spring 2018.

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