Bletchley Park hosts topical exhibition and VE Day celebrations

If the film, The Imitation Game, caught your imagination maybe it's time you paid a visit to Bletchley

Does the name Bletchley Park arouse your interest? It does mine. Ever since I saw the film The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing it has held a fascination for me. So I want to alert you to a couple of things happening there this year which may be of interest.

Okay, I know that, strictly speaking, somewhere in Bucks should maybe not be featuring on a London website. But, if you are looking for things to do with the kids in school holidays, Milton Keynes is just less than an hour away up the M1 after you have left the M25.

Bletchley Park, as many of you are aware, is the former top-secret home of the British World War II codebreakers and birthplace of modern computing. It will be the first venue to host Never Alone: What Happens When Everything is Connected? based on an exhibition created by the National Science and Media Museum.

This topical exhibition opens on April 3 and will run until November 1. It explores trends and issues around the Internet of Things (IoT) – an ever-increasing network of internet-connected devices which now outnumber the amount of people living on earth. Drawing on Bletchley Park’s wartime story, Never Alone explores questions around security and privacy by examining the proliferation of smart objects over the past decade.

The exhibition in Hut 12 will look at four subject areas – objects that relate to tracking, surveillance and smart homes, and a final section on bias exploring the ways devices can reflect the human values of their programmers and developers. Contemporary items like an Amazon Echo Dot, internet connected toys (including the My Friend Cayla doll, which appeared in many ‘toy of the year’ lists on release in 2015/16 but was subsequently banned in Germany), will be displayed alongside a wartime radio and template forms used by World War II intercept stations to track enemy movements.

Erica Munro, exhibition manager at Bletchley Park, said: “Handling intercepted information at scale and exploiting it was key to the wartime work at Bletchley Park. The collection and exploitation of data is still an ever-more relevant topic in the 21st century. We are excited to be hosting this exhibition, looking at the impact internet-connected items have on our lives today. The exhibition considers the positive improvements these devices can make to our lives, as well as encouraging visitors to question how our personal data is used, and how the connected world should be managed today.”

Never Alone will be accompanied by a programme of workshops and talks running throughout the year. Entry to the exhibition is included with a general admission ticket which gives visitors unlimited free returns for 12 months. Don’t forget under-12s go free!

Away from the exhibition, this year’s early May bank holiday has be shunted back four days to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day which marked the end of World War II. On Friday, May 8, Bletchley Park will mark the occasion with a special themed VE Day Celebration Weekend.

On the Friday and Saturday (May 8-9) there will be live 1940s music, dancing, food and drink (maybe not from the ’40s) and much more as Bletchley turns red, white and blue for its own street party. ‘Meet’ Winston Churchill and listen to one of his speeches to take in some of the spirit of the day.

Visitors can also join in with the UK-wide Nation’s Toast at 15:00 on the 8th with a Bletchley Park gin cocktail or mocktail. Churchill announced the end of the war at that time in 1945. Special family activities will be running all weekend. Admission to all activities is included with a general admission ticket unless otherwise stated.

For more information visit here.

A favourite scene from The Imitation Game.
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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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