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National Cryptologic Museum, Baltimore

#11 of 38 in Museums in Baltimore
Specialty Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
The National Cryptologic Museum (NCM) is an American museum of cryptologic history that is affiliated with the National Security Agency (NSA). The first public museum in the U.S. Intelligence Community, NCM is located in the former Colony Seven Motel, just two blocks from the NSA headquarters at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. The motel was purchased, creating a buffer zone between the high security main buildings of the NSA and an adjacent highway. The museum opened to the public on December 16, 1993, and now hosts about 50,000 visitors annually from all over the world.

The NCM is open Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, as well as 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of each month. It is closed on Sundays and all federal holidays, and operates on NSA's emergency/weather closure schedule (i.e. if NSA is closed, the museum is closed as well). The NCM includes a gift store whose operational hours coordinate with the museum's operational schedule (i.e., if the museum is closed altogether, opens late, or closes early, the gift shop does likewise) and an unclassified library with weekday-only operating hours that also represent the museum's weekday operational schedule. The library includes over a dozen boxes of the files of Herbert Yardley, declassified Enigma messages, technical reports, and books including how to crack the Data Encryption Standard using Deep Crack.

The National Vigilance Park (NVP) was next to the museum, where three reconnaissance aircraft were displayed. A U.S. Army Beechcraft RU-8D Seminole reconnaissance plane represents the Army Airborne Signals Intelligence contribution in the Vietnam War. A Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport, modified to look like a reconnaissance-configured C-130A, memorialized a U.S. Air Force aircraft shot down over Soviet Armenia during the Cold War. Finally, the park also contained a U.S. Navy Douglas EA-3B Skywarrior, commemorating a mission in the Mediterranean on January 25, 1987 in which all seven crew members died.
The NCM is open to the public, and admission is free. Donations to the NCM Foundation are accepted. Photography is allowed inside the museum but flash photography is prohibited in certain areas of the museum due to the age of some of the artifacts.

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National Cryptologic Museum reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
239 reviews
  • If you are the least bit interested in spies or espionage then you'll want to visit here. On display are all kinds of equipment the U.S. used in various wars. Most of which I'm sure you never heard...  more »
  • Visited with our two kids (9 and 7) on a weekend. They’re only open the 1st and 3rd Saturday if you can’t make it on a weekday. The kids enjoyed solving the challenges they had laid out and maybe...  more »
  • What an awesome experience!! Free admission and only ask for donations. We chose to walk around by ourselves instead of with a tour group. However, if you have the time, I would definitely join a tour. Such knowledgeable and fun staff that really know how to engage the people. So much history here and a lot of cool fun facts and information. We had a really cool experience, thanks so much!!!
  • Have been meaning to visit this place for months and finally got a chance to stop by. I originally decided I would peruse their website to educate myself because I could not make it during their open hours, but I'm glad I did stop in. Reception was very friendly and welcoming. The museum itself coders a lot of historical facts that I never knew that helped me understand the present much better. There is also a library with a suggested reading list available. I really got a lot out of my visit and would happily recommend it for anyone interested in cryptology or language and mathematics and how they are used together to create a new meaning.

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