The Cold War is hot! Enthusiasm for the espionage agencies of the United States and the former Soviet Union, the betrayals of agents and the failings of spy catchers, even Minuteman missile silos, could be said to be enjoying a boom. The Cold War Museum, founded by the son of Francis Gary Powers (the U-2 pilot shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960), can arrange “spy tours” through Washington, D.C. The National Security Agency runs the National Cryptologic Museum, where visitors can walk through the National Vigilance Park, a memorial to colleagues of Powers’ who lost their lives flying reconnaissance missions. In upstate New York, there are plans to turn a lead-reinforced concrete building that housed SAGE (the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment Direction Center—an important Cold War air-defense system) into a museum, where, so the planners hope, you will be able to watch Dr. Strangelove 24/7.
Next year, espionage aficionados will have cause to celebrate (and to press their beige raincoats) when the International Spy Museum opens in Washington, D.C. Founder Milton Maltz, who worked at the NSA in the 1950s, says of the venture, “It is of utmost importance to the Museum that we present the history of espionage and international intelligence professionals in a fair and honest fashion.” In addition to his credentials as a former spook, Maltz is the owner of the Malrite Co. and played a leading part in the creation of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (So, too, did Dennis Barrie, the spy museum’s curator, though he’s better known as the former director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati who was famously taken to court by right-wing religious groups for exhibiting the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe in 1990.) Since so many famous spies had treacherous inclinations, perhaps we can expect an Espionage Hall of Infamy.
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