Russian troops spot a BRIXMIS team photographing them. BRIXMIS gathered valuable military intelligence on potential threats to the West and NATO during the Cold War for over 40 years. Featured in Spies, Lies and Deception at IWM London (29 September 2023 – 14 April 2024).

Imperial War Museums unveils new exhibition: ‘Spies, Lies and Deception’

This autumn, the Imperial War Museums is set to take visitors on an journey through the world of espionage and deception with the Spies, Lies and Deception exhibition.

The free exhibition, running from 29 September to 14 April 2024, explores the covert tactics used in conflicts from the First World War to the present day and features over 25 captivating and shocking stories that have shaped the course of history.

With a collection of more than 150 objects, including gadgets, classified documents, art, and digitized film and photography, visitors have the opportunity to explore the world of spies and their deceptive methods.

Lead curator Amanda Mason said: “Covering everything from inflatable tanks and dummy parachutists to the stories of Kim Philby and the Salisbury Poisonings, Spies Lies and Deception will be a must-see exhibition for anyone who is interested in finding out the truth about the use of deception and espionage.”

One story featured in the exhibition is Operation Mincemeat, a daring plot during the Second World War that successfully misled the German High Command about the location of the next major Allied assault.

The display features artefacts from the operation, including mastermind Ewen Montagu’s private papers and a keepsake oar from the submarine that played a crucial role in the scheme.

Among the exhibits are a matchbox containing a specially adapted match for writing secret messages, footprint overshoes designed to conceal real footprints during operations, and papier-mâché heads used to deceive snipers in the deadly trenches of the First World War.

Visitors can discover the personal stories of individuals directly involved in these plots, as well as hear from industry experts sharing their insights.

One of the poignant tales shared is that of SOE operative Noor Inayat Khan, the first female wireless operator sent into Occupied France during the Second World War.

Her successful transmission of messages to London for months before being betrayed, captured, and executed highlights the profound personal sacrifices made in the line of duty.

Meanwhile, the betrayal perpetrated for the Soviet Union by double agents Karl Fuchs and Kim Philby shines a light on how deceit changes the lives of those tangled up in these webs of lies.

The exhibition will be accompanied of activities and expert talks, offering visitors a chance to engage even further.

A copy of an unpublished MI9 devices manual titled “Most Secret: MI9 Escape and Evasion Devices” will also be published in September, offering an additional glimpse into wartime deception.

As Spies, Lies and Deception opens its doors at the Imperial War Museums London, intrigue and fascination are sure to follow as visitors witness the stories that have shaped history through the secret world of espionage, deceit, and misdirection.

You can organise your visit on their website.

Featured Image: Copyright IWM (4071_90_0027)

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