WASHINGTON — James Bond’s shiny silver sports car — with its JB007 rotating license plate — is the first thing visitors see when they step into the new and improved International Spy Museum that opens Sunday in Washington. After that, it’s as if the history of Hollywood’s famous private eye vanishes in invisible ink, while the stories of real-life spies and modern-day espionage take center stage.
The old, cramped museum focused on human collection of intelligence. The new one also offers a window into covert operations, counterterrorism, intelligence analysis, cyber espionage, intelligence failures and even highly debated legal and ethical issues, such as waterboarding.
“We’re not playing it safe as a museum,” Vince Houghton, the museum’s curator and historian, said during a sneak-peak tour of the $162 million, nonprofit museum. “We don’t get money from the government. We need to maintain our independence because there are a lot