Destination DEA

A visit to the Agency’s Museum.

Washington, D.C., has a museum for spies and a “newseum” for journalists. So why not one for narcotics agents?

That’s what the U.S. government thought in 1976 when it first urged federal agencies to design exhibits that illustrated their histories. It would be 23 years before the Drug Enforcement Agency would make it happen, but finally, in 1999, the DEA Museum in Pentagon City opened its first exhibit.

The DEA originally imagined a place to honor narcotics agents, but as it began collecting badges and other artifacts, the concept for the exhibit evolved into America’s history of substance abuse.

Free of charge, visitors can see a replica of a 1970s head shop, check out a mural depicting the Opium Wars between Britain and China, and ogle an ’80s fur “Superfly” coat once worn to infiltrate drug rings.

With 18 exhibits, the museum spans 150 years of drug trends. The exhibit Good Medicine, Bad Behavior: Drug Diversion in America, for instance, explores Americans’ use of pharmaceuticals and how these medications affect the human body.

The tour ends with the Memorial Wall of Honor, which pays tribute to fallen narcotics agents, and every May, the museum holds a memorial service as part of National Police Week. DEAMuseum.org

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