Secrets Revealed at NSA's National Cryptologic Museum - Atlas Obscura

Annapolis Junction, Maryland

Secrets Revealed at NSA's National Cryptologic Museum

Travel through cryptologic history breaking some codes along the way.

Visit the only public museum in the world where you can cipher and decipher messages using an authentic World War II Enigma machine. 

Opened in 1993 as a collection of National Security Agency (NSA) employee mementos, the National Cryptologic Museum now houses thousands of rare unclassified and declassified artifacts. Take a peek at a copy of Polygraphia, the first book on cryptology published in 1518. Gander at Enigma, the so-called "unbreakable" cipher machine used by the German military during WWII. Marvel at SIGSALY, a replica of the 55-ton voice encryption communications system used by President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill. 

Join National Cryptologic Museum Curator Patrick Weadon and his team for a private after-hours tour that will delve into the history and mechanics of cryptology, from the Pre-American Revolutionary War to "hobo" survival codes during the Great Depression, and beyond. We'll also be greeted by historian, linguist, and author Gregory J. Nedved to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S.S. Pueblo incident—the seizure of the intelligence-gathering vessel that shook the world in 1968. Guests will even be able to partake in a little spycraft of their own.


  • The museum is accessible by car.  
  • There is usually traffic en route to the museum; please map your route in advance to give yourself enough travel time.
  • For security reasons, photography is only permitted inside the museum. No photography will be allowed outside the building or of the surrounding areas.
  • No children under 12-years-old, please. 


Email Julie Seigel at

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Advance tickets only. All sales final. No refunds or exchanges.