Located adjacent to NSA Headquarters at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, the National Cryptologic Museum houses thousands of artifacts that collectively serve to sustain the history of the cryptologic profession. Here visitors can catch a glimpse of some of the most dramatic moments in the history of American cryptology: the people who devoted their lives to cryptology and national defense, the machines and devices they developed, the techniques they used, and the places where they worked. For the visitor, some events in American and world history may take on a new meaning. For the cryptologic professional, it is an opportunity to absorb the heritage of the profession.
Originally designed to house artifacts from the National Security Agency, the NCM quickly gathered a priceless collection of artifacts of the nation's cryptologic history, including many rare and important encryption machines from WWII such as: the German Enigma machine, used by the German Army, Navy, and Luftwaffe throughout WWII. The Germans considered the codes generated by Enigma as unbreakable; the U.S. Army's Sigaba cypher machine, used by the Armed Forces of the United States. This machine was never known to have been broken by its foes during its service life; and, the history making Bombe. First developed by the British, this machine broke the German Enigma codes. Later versions were used by the U.S. to crack messages sent to the German military, significantly impacting the outcome of the war. These history making machines, along with many other rare historic cryptologic artifacts, can now be found into the NCM's collection.
As the gateway to the stories of America's secrets, the National Cryptologic Museum allows a peek into the people, equipment, and events that have played a role in cryptologic history. From America's first spy ring under George Washington to breaking the German's WWII Enigma machine, from the Hotline to Moscow through the development of supercomputers, from Native American code talkers to modern secure telephones, the NCM brings it all out from the veil of secrecy and into the open. Interactive displays, interesting exhibits and artifacts, and knowledgeable guides help explain the secrets behind the secrets.
Being one of the first public museums in the Intelligence Community, the NCM hosts approximately 70,000 visitors annually from across the country and throughout the world, allowing them a peek into the secret world of codemaking and codebreaking.
The museum is also an invaluable educational tool, benefiting thousands of students and teachers every year. Staff and docents provide students of all ages the chance to learn about cryptology's impact on history and the possibility of exciting jobs in an area they may not have thought possible. It has also been featured in a plethora of international TV, print, and radio media and has hosted visitors and dignitaries from around the world.