After nearly 14 years in Penn Quarter, the International Spy Museum made official its plans to move a new home in Southwest DC. The museum will relocate to a newly constructed building at L’Enfant Plaza scheduled to open spring 2018.
Since opening in July 2002, the Spy Museum, which documents American espionage through history and pop culture, hasn’t always had it easy. Its status as a non-Smithsonian requires it to depend on ticket sales, and in recent years, the museum has restructured itself to ensure its future. The initial announcement that it is moving to L’Enfant Plaza was paired with the news that it was becoming a nonprofit in the hopes of getting $15 million in tax relief from the DC government. There also was a 2014 deal in place to move the museum to Carnegie Library, which fell through.
The move to Southwest DC isn’t just a relocation, though. It’s also an expansion. The new museum, which will sit in front of a glass atrium on L’Enfant Plaza, is slated to include special design elements that reinforce its themes, such as a veil suspended in front of a black-box exhibition space that will allow people to be visible from inside and outside the building. Other added features for the 140,000-square-foot facility—designed by the London firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners—include more exhibit and educational space and a theater.
The Spy Museum’s relocation fits in with the District’s broader agenda of enlivening L’Enfant Plaza and the rest of Southwest DC.
“The new Spy Museum will be a welcome addition to Southwest as we continue to attract businesses and expand economic opportunity,” Mayor Muriel Bowser says in a press release.
This article has been updated to clarify the International Spy Museum’s financial health.