Turing exhibition at Bletchley to be opened by James May

Alan Turing image
Picture of Alan Turing on the wall at Bletchley Park Photo: ITV Anglia

Television presenter James May, will unveil 'The Life and Works of Alan Turing' exhibition at Bletchley Park.

The exhibition includes poignant new artefacts, revealed for the very first time, in the presence of Alan Turing's family.

It will also include the rebuild of Delilah, a secret speech system that Turing began developing for the war effort in 1943, a teddy bear, named by him as Porgy and used to practise his lectures on, and a letter to his mother, twenty years after his death, telling her for the very first time about his "vital importance to the outcome of World War II" and his contribution to the development of the modern computer.

The exhibition has been developed following a high-profile public campaign last year to save a rare collection of Alan Turing's work for the nation. The collection was secured for Bletchley Park after an exciting collaboration of the public, the private sector and the public sector to provide the funding package required.

Following this, members of the Turing family came forward with some extremely rare personal belongings of Turing and the Bletchley Park Trust Bombe Rebuild Team set to work on the complex and unique project of rebuilding Delilah, a world-first, planned to go on public display in the museum later in the year. The son of fellow codebreaker and friend of Turing, William Newman, provided Bletchley Park with a hand-drawn Monopoly board on which the young William had played, and beaten, Alan Turing.

"This will be the first permanent public exhibition of Turing's work and of major international importance"

– Jack Copeland, Director, Turing Archive for the History of Computing

These new unique and very personal artefacts complement beautifully the highly academic nature of Turing's work, making the exhibition visually compelling and providing a deeply touching human dimension.

"The Life and Works of Alan Turing depicts a man who was not only a brilliant and visionary mathematician and codebreaker but also a beloved son, an accomplished sportsman and a man of humour and sensitivity. The exhibition makes a complex subject accessible to all, inspiring mathematicians of the future and giving long-awaited recognition to the short but brilliant life and legacy of Alan Turing, the father of computing."

– Iain Standen, CEO, Bletchley Park Trust

Other artefacts within the exhibition include a copy of the 2009 government apology to Alan Turing for his treatment as a gay man, a biography written of him by his mother, prize books awarded at school and his wristwatch.

Also highlighting his sporting prowess are tankards awarded to him at King's College, Cambridge for his rowing, and a set of oars hand-painted with his name from when he had participated in the May "Bumps" Week.

All of this alongside the now world-famous and exquisite Turing slate statue, by sculptor Stephen Kettle, and the Turing Bombe Rebuild, already a key Bletchley Park exhibit and a remarkable example of precision engineering and Alan Turing's genius.

The exhibition's opening coincides with the official visit from the judges of the Art Fund Prize 2012, currently undertaking their nationwide search to find the 'museum of the year'.