Nestled at the edge of western Prince William County stands a hidden gem.
The Cold War Museum retells the story of history through an array of artifacts.
The background behind each piece is explained by experts.
“If you’re curious about the secret world — and most of us have no direct contact with it — you can come here … As our tagline says, ‘The real people explaining the real things,’” said Jason Hall, the museum’s executive director. “We have the real artifacts and the people that tend to explain them are people who actually worked as intelligence or military officers during the Cold War.”
Film that was shot from an SR-71 Blackbird Surveillance Plane and a camera that was designed to be used in a U-2 aircraft are a couple of artifacts that visitors will find.
The museum also features the “ear” of Mao Zedong.
“This is … a one-of-a-kind object developed by the CAA technical staff for the CIA’s analytic staff to help them solve image intelligence problems related to Mao,” Hall said.
Fascinating back histories aren’t limited to the pieces. The location of the museum also comes with a story.
“We’re here at Vint Hill, which was a former top secret signals intelligence base during World War II, and then was taken over first by the CIA and NSA,” Hall said. “And it’s actually monitoring station number 1. It’s where the NSA — the National Security Agency was founded.”
The Cold War Museum came to Vint Hill eight or nine years ago after it was founded by Francis Gary Powers, Jr. and John Welch.
“They were a couple of graduate students at George Mason University who were sitting in a bar one day and decided it would be cool to start a museum,” Hall said. “Not too many of those kinds of ideas actually come to fruition, but these guys pulled it off.”
The museum, located at 7172 Lineweaver Road, is open between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturdays and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Retired Col. Barry Colassard, an eyewitness to the Cuban Missile Crisis, will be speaking on September 16.
Tickets for the event, which will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., are available for purchase on Event Brite.