You would think that you would be able to buy a high quality calendar that replicates the paintings in the halls of the CIA’s headquarters at its gift shop, but strangely you cannot.
The CIA’s loss is the International Spy Museum’s gain. The museum can barely keep the calendars in stock.
The calendar displays paintings of clandestine missions dating back to WWII. December 2017 features the recovery of a portion of a Soviet sub from the Pacific Ocean.
Why can’t the CIA gift shop sell the calendar? The reason is that it was produced privately and is not an official US government project.
The force behind the calendar is Erik Kirzinger—a man from North Carolina whose uncle was a CIA contractor. In fact, his uncle lost his life during a 1952 mission in China. The calendar features the mission with a painting known as “Ambush in Manchuria.”
In fact, Kirzinger was the one who commissioned the large oil paintings for the CIA. He paid to design and publish the calendar, although he received significant donations from a retired case officer and the CEO of a tech company whose father worked as a contract pilot for the CIA.
Kirzinger took pains to make sure everything in the calendar is accurate and submitted it to the CIA’s museum and staff historians, so they could confirm its accuracy.
Before Kirzinger volunteered his services, the only artwork at the CIA consisted of modern art and “tacky Americana prints.”
His vision ran parallel to that of the CIA’s to create a world-class collection of art on par with the other military branches that display combat paintings.
The CIA honored Kirzinger with its award for non-agency personnel in 2010—the Agency Seal Medal.
You can find the calendars online at the website of the International Spy Museum (for the moment).