It would be difficult to find a more impeccable reference for the new Bond exhibit at the International Spy Museum than Peter Earnest, the museum's executive director.
Before you think, "Oh, sure, he has to say it's great," remember that he spent his professional life as a CIA covert operations officer. It's fair to say that he stakes his reputation on what he promotes to the world at the Spy Museum. A sneak preview of "Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains" shows this just-opened exhibit does him proud.
"We relate Bond to the real world," said Earnest of Ian Fleming's fictional 007 spy James Bond, who is portrayed by Daniel Craig in the latest film of the franchise, "Skyfall." "We've done interviews with real intelligence officers and asked them to comment on the film itself from a professional perspective. We also asked them to tell us [about any] 'Bond Moment' they had," he said.
|'Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains'|
|» Where: The International Spy Museum, 800 F St. NW|
|» When: Friday (check website for hours)|
|» Info: Free for members and children 6 and under; $14.95 for children ages 7-17; $15.95 for seniors 65+, military and law enforcement; $19.95 for ages 18-64; 202-EYE-SPYU (393-7798); spymuseum.org|
That mix of serious and humorous reality is what defines the museum. When the International Spy Museum opened in 2002, it became the only public museum in the U.S. dedicated solely to espionage. Those that see the international espionage artifacts on display there are often among the first members of the public to ever see them.
"Exquisitely Evil" is no exception. Visitors will see a wide collection of items from the 23 Bond films, ranging from Zao's Jaguar XKR from "Die Another Day" to the satellite from "GoldenEye" to the fierce teeth from the character Jaws who appeared in "The Spy Who Loved Me."
But this isn't just a look-at-the-cool-stuff exhibit. As those familiar with the Spy Museum know, visitors always get a taste of some almost-seems-real espionage.
This exhibit is no different.
"Kids of all ages can engage in the exhibit," said Jason Werden, speaking on behalf of the museum, talked about virtual disguises, swimming with sharks, interactive espionage challenges and hanging high above a city. "A big piece is the interactive features."
And if you think all of this is just make believe, consider Earnest's real-life viewpoint.
"I find that one of the most common questions I get is 'How much is real spying like the movies?' " said Earnest. "My initial response is that it is exactly like the movies. It just doesn't all happen in one hour and 45 minutes or so."