The first major exhibition at the Science and Industry Museum since reopening, and the first to be held in the new £5m Special Exhibitions Gallery, is giving visitors an unprecedented insight into the fascinating world of codebreaking, ciphers and secret communications.
Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security, which has attracted over 40,000 visitors in just 10 weeks, is all about communications intelligence and cyber security from the First World War to the latest in cyber security.
It features never-before-seen objects, interactive puzzles and first-person interviews, including hand-written documents, declassified files and artefacts from the historic collections of the Science Museum Group and GCHQ.
Some items which have been introduced to the exhibition exclusively for its run in the city focus on the work of Alan Turing. They include the recently introduced £50 note featuring his face, which the Bank of England worked with the Science and Industry Museum to announce in 2019, as well as marketing materials featuring Turing for the Ferranti Mark 1 computer, one of the world’s first commercially available digital computers, a delegates list with Turing’s name on it for the inaugural Manchester University Computing Machine Conference in 1951, and correspondence between Turing and Eric Jones, the then-director of GCHQ.
Other must-see items amongst over 100 objects in the exhibition include cipher machines used during the Second World War, secure telephones of the type used by British prime ministers, an encryption key used by Her Majesty The Queen, and a computer infected with the WannaCry ransomware which affected thousands of people and organisations, including the NHS, in 2017.
Other highlights explore how intelligence agencies and police foiled one of the most successful spy rings to operate during the Cold War, the challenges we face today maintaining digital security and how new technologies have transformed how we communicate, bringing risks as well as opportunities.
“It has been fantastic to be able to give our visitors the opportunity to have access to such incredible objects and stories, especially those that have never been seen before,” said Museum director Sally MacDonald. “It’s a great opportunity to unearth a century of historical and modern secrets in our new Special Exhibitions Gallery.
“There has been an amazing reaction to the exhibition from visitors, and we want to make sure that before the exhibition closes at the end of the month that as many people as possible get to experience for themselves the astounding ways in which STEM has kept and continues to keep our country safe.”
Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security is curated by the Science Museum Group with the help of expert advisors at GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence and cyber agency. It runs until Tuesday 31st August and is free, but booking is essential online or by calling 033 0058 0058.
Visitors will also need to book a general admission ticket. More information can be found here.