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Mystery solved: Over 38,000 visitors discover the Science and Industry Museum’s Top Secret exhibition in just 10 weeks

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 £5 million Special Exhibitions Gallery, Top Secret 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 31 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. Other items include 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 that, 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 (either online or by calling 033 0058 0058). Visitors will also need to book a general admission ticket. 

Following its run in Manchester, Top Secret will tour to the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford in 2022. The exhibition is supported by principal funder DCMS and principal sponsor Raytheon, with media partner The Telegraph.

The Science and Industry Museum is currently undergoing a multi-million-pound restoration project. As well as the now-complete Special Exhibitions Gallery, the much-loved Power Hall is being renovated, and improvement works are currently being made to the historic 1830 Station and Warehouse, the world's first passenger railway station and the oldest existing railway goods warehouse, respectively. These areas will remain closed until works are complete, but there is still plenty to do see and enjoy alongside Top Secret, including the Revolution Manchester gallery, where the city’s rich legacy of world-changing innovations, discoveries and ideas are on display; the Textiles Gallery, which tells the story of how cotton transformed the city into an industrial powerhouse; and the Experiment gallery, a favourite among family visitors who can see science brought to life through a series of interactive exhibits. 

-ENDS-

NOTES TO EDITORS

For more information, interviews and images please contact Rachel Conway at rachel.conway@scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk or on 0161 696 7785. 

ABOUT THE SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY MUSEUM

The Science and Industry Museum tells the story of where science met industry and the modern world began. Manchester was one of the first global industrial cities, and its epic rise, decline and resurrection has been echoed in countless other cities around the world. The museum's mission is to inspire all its visitors, including future scientists and inventors, with the story of how ideas can change the world, from the industrial revolution to today and beyond.  

The Science and Industry Museum is on the site of Liverpool Road Station, which was the Manchester terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the world's first purpose-built passenger railway. Among its internationally significant buildings are the world's oldest surviving passenger railway station and the world's first railway goods warehouse. In total, there are two Grade I listed buildings and four Grade II listed buildings on the site. 

The Science and Industry Museum is part of the Science Museum Group, a family of museums which also includes the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon; and the Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The Science Museum Group is devoted to the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology, industry and media. With five million visitors each year and an unrivalled collection, it is the most significant group of museums of science and innovation worldwide. 

ABOUT THE SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS GALLERY

The £5 million, 725-metre-square Special Exhibitions Gallery is the first project to be completed in the Science and Industry Museum’s multi-million-pound restoration plan, which will conserve and further open up its globally significant buildings and bring to life the story of the site and past, present and future ideas that change the world.

It opens up public access as a gallery space to this part of the much-loved museum for the first time, and will originate and host some of the world’s best science exhibitions and experiences in the North.

The Special Exhibitions Gallery is being generously funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Wellcome and Garfield Weston Foundation, with further support from the Kirby Laing Foundation and The Zochonis Charitable Trust.

ABOUT GCHQ

GCHQ is an intelligence 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 STEM SKILLS

The Science and Industry Museum and GMCA are working in partnership on a joint action plan to help bridge the STEM skills gap and make Greater Manchester a world leading city for STEM excellence. Both organisations, along with many others, have been playing a key role in working to address the city’s shortfall in skilled STEM workers, as well as preparing the people of Greater Manchester for an inspiring future ahead. With the support of GCHQ, the Top Secret exhibition will help to engage young people around the importance of STEM skills in maintaining national security. 

ABOUT DCMS

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) drives growth, enriches lives and promotes Britain to the world. DCMS is working to make the UK the safest place to live and work online and the best place to start and grow a digital business. The National Cyber Security Programme is supported by DCMS as part of the Government's five year, £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy.

ABOUT RAYTHEON UK

With facilities in Broughton, Waddington, Glenrothes, Harlow, Gloucester and Manchester, Raytheon UK is invested in the British workforce and the development of UK technology. Across the country the company employs 1,700 people and supports 9,000 jobs across the UK supply chain. With more than 30 years of experience in cyber, Raytheon UK offers unmatched end-to-end cyber capabilities that protect every side of cyber for government agencies, businesses and nations. Raytheon UK has invested in two cyber innovation centres in the UK to support the growing demand for cyber security expertise. Raytheon UK’s education investments include a Cyber Academy, which provides university students an intense three-day workshop and capstone exercise on security skills, as well as bursaries offered to support specialist cyber education, workshops and mini-camps. www.raytheon.co.uk

ABOUT MEDIA PARTNER THE TELEGRAPH

The Telegraph’s mission is to provide content that inspires people to have the perspective they want to progress in life. It delivers quality, trusted, award-winning journalism, 24 hours a day, across its digital and print properties as well as through leading digital partners.

Founded in 1855, The Telegraph has built a diversified commercial model, with equal strength in advertising, subscriptions and circulation, commerce, and events. In 1994, The Telegraph launched an online offering, the first UK publisher to do so. The launch in 2016 of a freemium digital subscriptions model, with clearly defined open and premium content, has enhanced its ability to offer both scale and engagement to support this diversified approach.

The Telegraph’s portfolio includes The Telegraph website and app, The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph print titles, and The Telegraph Edition app which offers a digital replication of the newspapers.

21.7 million Britons consume content across the portfolio monthly, with a growing global digital audience through 89 million browsers a month enjoying The Telegraph’s perspective on the world. Additionally, The Daily Telegraph is the UK’s bestselling quality broadsheet newspaper.

Part of the Science Museum Group