Not surprisingly, the National Cryptologic Museum is within the shadow of the National Security Agency headquarters. The museum explains and demonstrates how governments, businesses and individuals keep secrets from each other — or try to. 

Follow the cryptologic history of the U.S. with stories about Civil War messages, breaking the Imperial Japanese cipher, and unraveling Germany’s Enigma machine. Navajo “Code Talkers” in the Pacific War and schemes during Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, and today underscore the subterfuge of geopolitical communications.  

related: Gettysburg: Beyond the battlefield 

It’s not all military, though. One exhibit decodes the drawings and vocabulary of Depression-era homeless. And there’s a look at ciphers in our daily lives, from digital signatures to bar codes. 

The museum is at Fort Meade, about half-way between Baltimore and Washington. 

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