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FBI: From Al Capone to Al Qaeda

July 2, 2021 – January 9, 2022

The Reagan Library is open 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. every day of the week, except Thanksgiving, December 4, Christmas and New Year's Day.


“Terrorists can run, but they can’t hide…If you kill and/or injure an American or kidnap an American during the commission of a terrorist attack, the U.S. government will find you and do our very best to bring you to justice.” – David Marquis, former FBI Agent

In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt and his Attorney General Charles Bonaparte agreed that the federal government needed to prevent corruption in American society. It was widespread and out of hand. General Bonaparte put together a small investigative group. In 1909, under President Taft, the group was named the Bureau of Investigation, a name that remained until officially being renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935.

Now, in a worldwide premiere, come see FBI: From Al Capone to Al Qaeda at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum – a brand-new 11,000 square foot exhibition which covers the history of the storied agency from inception to its modern day efforts to fight domestic terrorism in the United States. This is the first time that many of these remarkable, historic artifacts and criminal evidence have been on public display together.

The exhibition will include:

  • The FBI’s beginnings – why it was created, what makes it different from other federal agencies, and how its changed over the years. Artifacts on display will include items from J. Edgar Hoover’s (the first Director of the FBI) office and estate.
  • The Making of an Agent – what are the requirements to becoming an agent? What training do agents go through? In this gallery, guests can participate in an interactive abbreviated FBI qualification course.
“The FBI Academy is the toughest boot camp, hardest grad school rolled into one. It is not college. It is life and death.” – quote from the tv show Quantico
  • The FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted Lists – how they originated and what they’ve accomplished for the FBI.

  • Major Cases – This gallery will showcase the stories – and evidence – from some of the FBI’s top cases, including Al Capone, John Dillinger, the DC Beltway Snipers, the Mafia, the Unabomber and 9/11. Artifacts on display include the bullet-ridden car in which Bonnie and Clyde met their fate, John Dillinger’s death mask, the raft and paddle used in the only escape from Alcatraz, Donnie Brasco’s undercover documents, trial evidence from the DC Beltway sniper case and the infamous “Unabomber” case including the original Manifesto written by Ted Kaczynski. Artifacts will also cover the Patty Hearst kidnapping and the Oklahoma City Bombing – including parts of the bomb-laden truck from the crime scene, fragments of the building, and personal items recovered from the rubble on that tragic day.


piece of a jet engine from United Airlines Flight 175

Guests look at a piece of a jet engine from United Airlines Flight 175 that crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9-11

Guests examine Bonnie & Clyde’s death car – the actual Ford V8 in which they were shot and killed

gun owned by gangster John Dillinger

A guest looks at a modified gun owned by gangster John Dillinger, as well as the FBI’s Identification Orders for Dillinger and his Death Mask

A retired FBI Special Agent compares his ID with that of J. Edgar Hoover’s

A close-up look at the trunk from the car used by the Beltway Snipers in 2002. The entire car is on display.

“On the cyber front, we’re seeing hack after hack, and breach after breach. And we’re seeing more and more what we call a “blended threat,” where cyber and espionage merge together in all kinds of new ways. We still confront traditional espionage threats, with dead drops and covers. But economic espionage dominates our counterintelligence program.” – FBI Director Christopher Wray
“The FBI and all its employees, whether they're special agents or support employees, are dedicated to the well-being of all United States citizens. In that light, this exhibit will expand individual knowledge of the FBI, respect of the FBI, and it'll reaffirm and, potentially, educate inviduals regarding the FBI's jurisdiction and accomplishments during the course of its great history. – David Espie, Former FBI Agent
  • The Changing Face of the FBI – this gallery will look at how the FBI has changed over the years. A FBI lab set-up will showcase their technological advancements and artifacts will include items from the 9/11 and 1993 World Trade Center bombings. FBI in film and pop culture – Now that visitors have learned about the real FBI, they will be able to reevaluate what they’ve learned about the FBI from film and pop culture.
“When the FBI let me out of prison early to advise the agency on preventing fraud, I wasn’t a changed person. I wasn’t rehabilitated. But when I started working with the FBI, one of the most ethical groups of men and women in the world, I couldn’t help but have some of that character rub off on me.” – Frank Abagnale (FBI Consultant that Catch Me if You Can was based on)


Entertaining and educational for the entire family, FBI: From Al Capone to Al Qaeda is a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, not to be missed.

The Reagan Library is open 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. every day of the week, except Thanksgiving, December 4, Christmas and New Year's Day.

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