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National Cryptologic Museum        National Cryptologic Museum

Overview

The National Cryptologic Museum is the National Security Agency's principal gateway to the public.  It shares the Nation's, as well as NSA's, cryptologic legacy and place in world history.  Located adjacent to NSA Headquarters at Ft. George G. Meade, Maryland, the Museum houses a collection of 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 will 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 Agency and to give employees a place to reflect on past successes and failures, the Museum quickly developed into a priceless collection of the Nation's cryptologic history.  The Museum opened to the public in December 1993 and quickly became a highlight of the area.

Being the first and only public museum in the Intelligence Community, the Museum hosts approximately 50,000 visitors annually from all over the country and all over the world, allowing them a peek into the secret world of codemaking and codebreaking.



The Museum has been featured in a plethora of international TV, print, and radio media and has hosted visitors and dignitaries from around the world.

World War I

The NCM houses several exhibits dealing with the cryptologic aspects of World War I to include:

World War I: Zimmerman Telegram
The museum exhibit highlights how one decoded message changed the course of history during World War I. The Germans planned to cut off supply lines to Britain and France by beginning unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic.  Fearing the United States would join the battle if their ships were sunk; Germany asked Mexico to start a war with the United States and promised the return of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.  The request was sent from the foreign minister in Berlin, Arthur Zimmermann, through the German ambassador in Washington DC to the German ambassador in Mexico City, in the form of a coded message. It became known as "The Zimmermann Telegram."  Britain intercepted the message as it was transmitted overseas.  Royal Navy cryptanalysts decoded and showed the message to the United States. Ultimately, Congress declared war on Germany.  Thus, a single coded message, and the efforts of cryptanalysts, changed history.


World War I: Radio Intercept Site
This site is a mock-up of the World War I intercept site in Verdun, France. The exhibit is based on two pictures of the original shack.  Intercepting the enemy's radio communication was imperative for success during WWI. At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army successfully used vital radio intercepts, enabling them to defeat the Russian 2nd Army in the Battle of Tannenberg.  Although signals intelligence was in its infancy, and radio was the new communications technology, the U.S. Army's Radio Intelligence Section used their newfound capabilities to "spy" on enemy conversation. Signals could be intercepted without being in close proximity to the transmitter or transmission lines and could provide vital information about enemy tactics and strategy.

Address
9899 Savage Road
Fort George G. Meade
Maryland, 20755

Hours
Weekdays: 9 AM-4 PM
(Closed on Federal Holidays)
1st & 3rd Saturdays: 10 AM-2 PM

Phone Numbers
301-688-5848

Website: www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic-heritage/museum/

 

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