9800 Savage Rd, Fort Meade, MD | Directions 2075539.109513 -76.772980
Neighborhoods: Fort Meade
The century-spanning accomplishments of decoders are honored by the National Security Agency. – Overview
How appropriate that this NSA museum is hidden behind a Shell station in the middle of nowhere; the highly secretive nature of professional cryptography has always kept its most accomplished practitioners in relative obscurity. Part war propaganda, part wondrous paraphernalia, this patriotically-inclined exhibition of the undercover assembles kitsch toys, real equipment and snapshot bios to reveal the history of one sneaky science that's been omnipresent in American history--from revolutionary times through numerous wars and conflicts (both internal and international).
Features and Attractions
Perhaps museum-goers shouldn't be surprised at the mind-numbing amount of wall text, as cryptographers are obsessed with words. Yet this institution's most engaging components are the interactive ones. A touch-activated screen invites participants to decipher pictorial images as phonetic syllables; an actual Enigma coding machine allows you to encrypt your name as intricately sequenced numbers and letters. Hand-held audio narration further eases visual overload.
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