Major New Exhibition Reveals GCHQ Secrets for the First Time

Artifacts from the 100-year history of GCHQ, the UK’s Intelligence, Security and Cyber agency, will be going on display at a ‘Top Secret’ Science Museum exhibition this summer, it was revealed today.

In a first for a UK intelligence agency, Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security,will explore a century’s worth of intelligence through unseen artefacts, anecdotes, and the rich personal and technological stories that underpin GCHQ’s role at the heart of the nation’s security.

From today (Thursday 7 March) free tickets will be available to book on the Science Museum’s website ahead of the opening on 10July 2019. It will run in London until February 2020, moving to Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum in October the same year.

Announcing the unique partnership with the Science Museum, GCHQ’s Director Jeremy Fleming said:

‘GCHQ has been at the heart of the nation’s security for 100 years. It has saved countless lives, given Britain an edge, and solved or harnessed some of the world’s hardest technology challenges. It’s a privilege to share the exciting story of our people and technology. 

‘This exhibition is critical – not just for GCHQ, but for engaging the UK public. We want to inspire the next generation of cyber security and STEM skills experts for the challenges of the next 100 years. We believe that with the right mix of minds, anything is possible.

‘I hope that this unique collaboration with the Science Museum will encourage people of all ages and all parts of our society to think about the work we do and the role they could play in our future.’

The exhibition – which coincides with GCHQ’s centenary year – will take visitors through the history of secret communications including the role Alan Turing and Bletchley Park played in breaking the Enigma code during World War II, revealing spy-craft developed during the Cold War, and investigating the technologies that will help keep the UK safe into the future. 

Visitors will be invited to step inside this fascinating world and hear from the individuals carrying out top secret work today to defend against terror attacks and serious crime, and discover the challenges of maintaining digital security. As would be expected from the minds behind the best-selling GCHQ puzzle books, there will also be the opportunity to challenge friends and family to codebreaker challenges in an interactive puzzle zone. 

GCHQ’s work has never been more relevant; pioneering a new kind of security in an ever more complex world. The changing threats the country faces will demand ever more of the ingenuity for which GCHQ is renowned. From its inception, the agency has valued different perspectives and diversity of skills, and GCHQ’s history is full of ordinary people solving extraordinary problems. 

We believe that, with the right mix of minds, anything is possible. We hope that this exciting exhibition will give people a flavour of our work and hopefully inspire a new generation.

Tickets and further information can be found on the Science Museum’s website: https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

https://www.sciencemuseum.org.ukhttps://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

About GCHQ 

GCHQ is an intelligence, security and cyber agency with a mission to help keep the UK safe. Its people use cutting-edge technology and technical ingenuity to identify, analyse and disrupt threats in an increasingly digital world. We work closely with MI5, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), law enforcement, the military and international partners to counter real-world and online threats from nation states, criminal groups, terrorists and individuals. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of GCHQ and was set up in October 2016, leads the cyber security mission to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online. www.gchq.gov.uk

About GCHQ Centenary

Throughout this year, GCHQ will be celebrating its centenary with a number of special events – building to the 100th anniversary of the organisation’s formation on 1st November 2019. We have already released The GCHQ Puzzle Book II and marked our first home at Watergate House with a commemorative plaque unveiled by Her Majesty the Queen. ‘Behind the Enigma: the authorized history of GCHQ’ will be published by Bloomsbury in the Autumn.

The past century has seen GCHQ at the heart of the nation’s security. The organisation is committed to continuing to keep the UK safe for the next 100 years. Our work has never been more relevant; pioneering a new kind of security in an ever more complex world. The changing threats the country faces will demand ever more of the ingenuity for which GCHQ is renowned. From its inception, the agency has valued different perspectives and diversity of skills, and GCHQ’s history is full of ordinary people solving extraordinary problems. We believe that, with the right mix of minds, anything is possible.

The origins of GCHQ date back to the creation of the Government Code & Cypher School (GC&CS) in 1919. GC&CS was the merger of Room 40 in the Admiralty, responsible for naval intelligence, and MI1(b) in the War Office, responsible for military intelligence, during the First World War. GC&CS became the single organisation responsible for signals intelligence. From its earliest days, producing intelligence from others’ communications whilst protecting the UK’s own has been at the core of the mission. 

GC&CS was renamed GCHQ in 1939 to better disguise its mission. Its role at Bletchley

Park in the Second World War is well known and it moved to Cheltenham in 1950. Today, GCHQ has sites across the country including Bude, Scarborough, and London, and will be opening a new facility in Manchester in 2019.

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