The Drug Enforcement Agency Museum and Visitors Center is designed to educate Americans about the history of drug enforcement and to demonstrate the dangers of drug use. But don't worry, the museum does not include gruesome pictures designed to scare people straight. Instead, the museum portrays its message in a way that is mild-mannered and entertaining.
The museum is laid out in a chronological fashion, displaying a timeline of the history of drug abuse, starting from the Opium Wars of the 1840s to the present day . Exhibits include confiscated items from drug raids in the last half of the 20th century, including drug paraphernalia and luxury items owned by drug lords. Among the most popular items in the museum is the diamond-encrusted Colt .45 of drug lord Rafael Caro-Quintero. They have also recreated a 1970's era marijuana shop, and an American crack house. There are several interactive kiosks, and the museum also features a gift shop. Items from the DEA Museum gift shop are also available to be purchased online at https://www.apifederal.com/dea/default.aspx.
In 1976, during America’s bicentennial celebrations, the federal government encouraged all of its agencies to develop exhibits that highlighted the history of that particular agency. A Special Agent with DEA’s Office of Training began collecting law enforcement badges worn by early narcotics agents. These badges spanned the entire period of time since federal drug law enforcement began in 1914. The seed of the DEA Museum had been planted.
By 1999 the Museum had gathered momentum and funding and the facility with its first exhibit was opened. “Illegal Drugs in America: A Modern History” received critical acclaim from the press and public alike for the accurate portrayal of the more than 150 year history of drugs and drug abuse and the DEA.
In order to enhance the Museum’s ability to tell a broader and more complete story, an effort began in mid-2001 to expand the Museum’s gallery space. A second, changing exhibit gallery was opened in September 2002. The first exhibit in that space, “Target America: Traffickers, Terrorists and You” was designed as the Museum’s first traveling exhibit. “Target America” left the DEA Museum and began a successful nation-wide tour in September 2003. The Museum’s changing gallery has continued to host various topical exhibits including, “DEA: Air, Land & Sea” and “Good Medicine, Bad Behavior: Drug Diversion in America.”
The museum is ideal for the cost-conscious traveler, as admission is free. Group tours are offered for groups of 15 or larger, but advance reservations are requested. Located in the DEA Building in Arlington Virginia, the museum is easily accessibly from the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.
Drug Enforcement Administration Museum address and hours
Drug Enforcement Administration Museum
700 Army Navy Drive
Arlington, Virginia 22202
The museum is closed Saturday through Monday, as their hours are Tuesday through Friday, from 10 AM to 4 PM.
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