Since opening in May, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester has welcomed over 38,000 sleuths through the doors of its Top Secret: From ciphers to cyber security exhibition.
The first major exhibition at the museum since reopening, and the first to be held in the new £5m Special Exhibitions Gallery – it has seen visitors from across the North and beyond come to investigate the undercover goings on throughout history and the ways in which cyber security keeps us safe today.
Curated by the Science Museum Group with the help of expert advisors at GCHQ – the UK’s intelligence and cyber agency, visitors have been given an unprecedented insight into communications intelligence and cyber security over the course of 100 years through never-before-seen objects, interactive puzzles and first-person interviews.
From the First World War to the latest in cyber security, thousands of visitors have been astounded by stories revealed via hand-written documents, declassified files and artefacts from the historic collections of the Science Museum Group and GCHQ.
Set to end its Manchester run on the 31st August, now is the last chance for would-be sleuths to immerse themselves in this free, fascinating world of codebreaking, ciphers and secret communications.
Curious visitors of all ages have just one month left to discover the ingenious work of Alan Turing, whose story is intrinsically tied to Manchester, through items that have been introduced to the exhibition exclusively for its run in the city. Including 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 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 unmissable highlights include exploring how intelligence agencies and police foiled one of the most successful spy rings to operate during the Cold War, or the challenges we face today maintaining digital security and how new technologies have transformed how we communicate, bringing risks as well as opportunities.
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, in 2017, affected thousands of people and organisations, including the NHS.
Sally MacDonald, Director of the Science and Industry Museum said: “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. 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 will run until Tuesday 31 August. It is free, but booking is essential online (www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk/whats-on/top-secret) or by calling 033 0058 0058. Visitors will also need to book a general admission ticket. More information can be found at www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk.