Tuesday 4 February 2014

Two Museums Separated by a Common Language

Last year I visited the museum at Bletchley Park where they were doing radio intercepts and codebreaking during the war. My visit was slightly spoiled by the fact that the exhibits that I wanted to see were housed in a separate museum with a separate entry fee, and that half of that other museum was closed on the day I visited. As well as breaking the enigma code at Bletchley Park, they also built the first programmable digital electronic computer. The first computer had nothing to do with Enigma, that was already broken. The first computer was for a teleprinter code called Lorenze, it was built by a huge team that nearly worked themselves to death, but the two main architects were eccentric genius gaylord Alan Turing, and telephone exchange engineer Tommy Flowers. Neither of them were properly recognised or rewarded.

Since I went there the spat between the two museums has worsened.

Here's a snippet from the BBC news about the spat, and Bletchley Park Trust sacking one of its volunteers for showing visitors the history about computers being invented.

And here is an even handed and well researched summary of the situation between the two museums:

Sadly things have got so bad that Bletchley Part Trust are going to build a fence to keep their visitors away from the computer museum. Bletchley Park are rolling in lottery money and are busy trying to create "a world class visitor attraction" while the national museum of computing is in serious financial difficulty.

I'd like to bang the heads of the Lottery Heritage Fund, The National Museum of Computing, and the Bletchley Park Trust together. It's the same set of buildings, and the same bit of history. They should try getting the funding, the tours, and the ticketing sorted out for both museums.

Richard "play nicely, children" B

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