Spy Museum receives $3 million gift from Verstandig Family Foundation

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Spy Museum receives $3 million gift from Verstandig Family Foundation
Secrets Revealed Pop Up Exhibit 2023. Photo Credit: Pierre Funes, Photographer for the International Spy Museum.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The International Spy Museum (SPY), a nonprofit museum in Washington, DC, received a multi-year $3 million grant from the Verstandig Family Foundation, its largest-ever gift from a foundation. Support from the Verstandig Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization established by entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Spy Museum board member Grant Verstandig, funds an array of initiatives, from sustaining and expanding programming for underserved communities and artifact preservation to a special focus on reimagining a major Museum exhibit that highlights one of the rarest artifacts in its collection: an original letter written by George Washington.

“We are profoundly grateful to Grant Verstandig and the Verstandig Family Foundation for this landmark gift and for the recognition and the valued trust they’ve put in our work,” said International Spy Museum Executive Director Chris Costa. “As a result of their exceptional generosity, we will be able to think big and ambitiously deliver on our educational mission, significantly improving the Museum experience for our visitors and exploring new and creative ways to encourage our audiences to think critically about the complex world around us.”

SPY opened in Washington, DC in 2002 as a must-see cultural institution for locals and tourists alike: the first museum dedicated to uncovering the shadow world of espionage from a global perspective. Since its launch, the Museum proved so popular that in May of 2019, it moved to a new, larger building with totally reimagined exhibits. In its new home, SPY has already welcomed nearly 2 million visitors despite multiple closures and capacity limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 and 2021, SPY reached more than 5 million people through virtual programming, the popular SpyCast Podcast, and myriad online resources and activities for students and educators.

Thanks to the Verstandig Family Foundation, the Museum’s “Spying That Launched a Nation” exhibit will be reimagined to create a dynamic and interactive encounter with one of the most compelling chapters of the Revolutionary War, the establishment of the Culper Spy Ring. An exciting combination of storytelling techniques will weave the tale of how this rebel network “out-spied” the British and helped the 13 colonies win their independence.

In 2021, Grant Verstandig joined the Museum’s Board of Directors. No stranger to spy content, Verstandig has long had a passion for intelligence, serving as an advisor to the National Security Agency and other organizations in national security, foreign policy, and defense. He is the Co-Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Red Cell Partners, an incubation firm building rapidly scalable technology-led companies that are bringing revolutionary advancements to market in healthcare and national security. Verstandig recently shared his impressive private collection of espionage artifacts with the Museum, which was developed into its own mini exhibit called “Secrets Revealed.” The exhibit opened in January of 2023, showcasing artifacts from his collection that have never before been displayed to the public.

“I am beyond excited by the opportunity to partner with the Spy Museum to share this collection with the broader Washington DC community and spy enthusiasts across the world,” said Grant Verstandig. “People take many different approaches to structuring their personal collections; for me it has never been about the most rare or esoteric item, it is about the challenge of the search, the thrill of discovering an artifact that has had a significant impact on history, and the pleasure of continuous learning about a subject matter I have been fascinated by since childhood.”

Verstandig’s work through the Verstandig Family Foundation is focused on private-public partnerships that accelerate innovation, shape policy, and drive change at a local, national, and global level, with a particular emphasis on projects in their five core policy areas: national security, healthcare, education and entrepreneurship, veteran health, and animal welfare.

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