There are only two places to see a gallery of artwork depicting key events in the history of U.S. intelligence services: The headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency and an out-of-the way museum in Alabama.
Tucked away in a neighborhood near Birmingham’s airport, the Southern Museum of Flight this month opened a gallery featuring 16 reproductions of original artwork donated to the CIA and displayed at its building in McLean, Va. Based upon once-secret events that have since been declassified, the artwork provides a rare glimpse into decades of U.S. spy work.
One print depicts a B-26 bomber flying over Cuba during the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, when Alabama National Guard pilots flew for the CIA in a bid to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro.
Another print shows World War II spy Virginia Hall tapping out code in occupied France, another a sunken Soviet submarine being lifted off the ocean floor during a secret 1974 operation.
The general public can’t see the paintings at the spy agency – they are housed in a secure area frequented only by employees, official visitors and VIPs.