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Top Secret: From ciphers to cyber security

Top Secret opens at the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester in 2021.



This exhibition uncovered the remarkable world of codebreaking, ciphers and secret communications. From the trenches of the First World War to the latest in cyber security, Top Secret explored over a century’s worth of communications intelligence through hand-written documents, declassified files and previously unseen artefacts from the Science Museum Group's and GCHQ’s historic collections.

Visitors could:

  • Trace the evolution of the gadgets and devices used to conceal crucial messages and to decode the secrets of others.
  • Hear from GCHQ staff doing top secret work to defend against terror attacks and serious crime and discover the challenges of maintaining digital security in the 21st century.
  • Explore the story of Alan Turing and the team of Bletchley Park codebreakers who broke the Enigma code in 1941, uncover spy-craft from 1960’s Cold War espionage and challenge your friends and family to become codebreakers in our interactive puzzle zone.

Top Secret coincided with the 100th anniversary of GCHQ, the UK’s Intelligence, Security and Cyber agency.


Principal funder

Principal Sponsors

Major Sponsor

Associate funder

The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation

Supported by

Keith Thrower

Sir Ian Blatchford and Jeremy Rosenblatt

With special thanks to

Michael Spencer and NEX Group

Media Partner