The Spy Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world. It offers many a unique exhibit - and many a story, of course. Thanks to Finland's geographical and geopolitical location between the East and the West, the country was always fertile ground for espionage and counter-espionage, and the museum reflects that.
On a porcelain elephant from India, a glass box with two gold rings glows. The rings once belonged to the famous dancer and spy Mata Hari. In one of the rings she concealed poison. In the other, a rather large signet ring she hid top secret letters - dead letters, as they're known in the jargon of spies. There are displays devoted to the forgery of documents, the operations of spies in the Second World War, and clandestine activities during the Cold War. If your childhood was spent in the Soviet bloc among relics like the legendary TV miniseries Seventeen Moments of Spring, starring Vyacheslav Tikhonov as Max Otto von Stirlitz (really the Russian spy Maksim Isaev, based on a composite of Soviet spies that actually existed), a visit to this unique museum might dredge up many a lost memory. The difference here is that what's exhibited is authentic, even when mercilessly cold-blooded. This cold-blooded mercilessness is truthful with regard to the historical record, a far cry from James Bond's riveting action flicks. Among the weapons, for instance, you can view the umbrella used to murder the Bulgarian writer and dissident Georgi Markov in 1978. Crossing London's Waterloo Bridge, Markov felt a sting in his calf. Looking behind him, he noticed a man with umbrella who murmured "sorry" and disappeared into the crowd. But the pimple he later noticed on his leg was actually a pellet containing ricin. Markov died in three days' time. It turned out that the KGB was involved in this assassination. The museum also houses maps of the Baltic region with the KGB seal. When you complete your visit you are left with the phrase: "Just because you are paranoid does not mean they are after you. Trust no one."
Keywords: museum, Tampere, Finland