The capital area of Washington D.C. is full of federal agencies and services. Thus, there are also some very specific exhibitions. One of these exhibitions is the well-rated DEA Museum in Arlington, VA, which is dealing with the mission and work of the Drug Enforcement Administration. I visited this place during my full day (1st June 2019) in the area on my route to Nashville.
DEA Museum – Location & Admission
DEA Museum is located close to the Pentagon City metro station. If you head towards Pentagon, the DEA Museum is just a short walk. The Museum has a separate entrance and is signposted, so that you cannot miss it.
Entrance to the Museum is free. However, there are some special rules about the museum, which is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 to 16:00. Adults need to verify identity with a photo ID. As I do not travel with my passport in the city, my German ID card was fine. There are airport-alike security checks. At minor part of the exhibition, which is located in the lobby of the museum entrance, does not allow photography.
DEA Museum – The Visit
The key part of the museum is named Illegal Drugs in America – A Modern History. The first exhibits are about opium trade and how this paved the road to drug abuse in Europe and North America. The exhibition does not only show items about drug preparation and consumption, but also about historical background – for example how the British were involved in raising the international opium trade.
There are also quite some exhibits about how careless people used drugs, espcially around the 1900s. There are two substances, which are quite in focus: heroin and cocaine. In contrast to World of Coca Cola, they also confirm that cocaine was an initial ingredient of the world-famous soda. In these days, the first drug enforcement departments were found in the USA.
Going through the following decades, drugs became very popular, especially amongst the hipster people. The museum also shows how drugs were brought into the States, including the key traders. There are also some celebrities, which are named explicitly – like Leonard Bias, a basketball player, who died partying his first NBA contract. The exhibitions about drugs end up with the synthetic substances like exstacy, which are dealt until today. A very interesting section is about medical abuse and shows the good effects and side effects of some popular drugs here. There is even a file of people dying because of these abuse cases.
Insights about the DEA Methods
Finally, of course, the museum shows how the DEA is fighting against all these problems. This question is presented from different viewpoints, starting from structural information til technical equipment.
DEA Wall of Honor
In the lobby area, where photography is not allowed, one item in display is a Hells Angels’ motorcycle. The most impressive one, though, is the Wall of Honor, where agents and other DEA employees killed in their duties are honored. The online version of it can be found on the DEA website.
DEA Museum – My View
Visiting the DEA Museum in Greater Washington was definitely a good time. I stayed there some 50 minutes, but really learned a lot. The exhibition was very entertaining and educating. I espcially loved the parts about the history of drug dealing and the current situation of medical abuse. Due to its nice location, I would definitely recommend a visit if you are interested in the topic.