Our new Mary Rose Museum will open 31st May 2013!
The new Mary Rose Museum will form the new centrepiece to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, home to The Royal Navy, one of the UK’s major visitor destinations. Lincoln Clarke, Chief Executive of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard said “The Mary Rose was built in Portsmouth 500 years ago and now, through the Museum, she confirms Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as the place to explore British naval history and further establishes the Dockyard as a major international visitor destination – with all the benefits this brings to local people and the city.”
The museum is a giant ‘air lock’ and time capsule which is built around King Henry VIIIs Mary Rose Ship, reuniting her with its content and crew. The new museum, led by Wilkinson Eyre Architects (architect) and Pringle Brandon Perkins+Will (architects for the interior) was built around the hull of the ship. The building takes the form of a finely crafted wooden ‘jewellery box’ with the hull at its centre and galleries running the length of the ship, each at a level corresponding to a deck level on the ship. The pioneering building design has created a special environment to protect the unique and priceless 16th century artefacts and hull, and also display them in a manner that enables visitors to experience the ship in the best possible way. Conservation work on the hull is in its final phase in a ‘hot box’ with fabric ducts directing, in a highly sophisticated pattern, dried air at exact temperatures across all parts of the hull.
Visitors will be able to see the hull through a series of windows giving different aspects over, and around, the ship. Once drying is complete in 4 to 5 years time the internal walls will be removed and the hull will be viewed through nothing but air – further enhancing the visitor experience and the connections between the hull and the artefacts.
The museum will showcase the most comprehensive collection of some 19,000 Tudor artefacts in the world from personal belongings such as wooden eating bowls, leather shoes, musical instruments through to longbows and two tonne guns. For the first time crew members will be bought to life through forensic science as you will come face to face with a carpenter, cook, archer and even ‘Hatch’ the ship’s dog. Some artefacts are displayed in such a way to provide you with an insight into what each deck would have looked like moments before the ship sank.
The opening marks 30 years since the hull of Mary Rose was raised from the Solent in 1982 and 437 years after she sank on 19 July, 1545: when their world stopped, our story began. With 500 crew (and no more than 35 survivors) the ship sank in full view of King Henry VIII while leading the attack on a French invasion fleet during the Battle of The Solent. The Mary Rose, one of the first ships able to fire a broadside, was a firm favourite of King Henry VIII. Her first battle was in 1512 and her then captain noted she was ‘The noblest ship of sail’. When she sank she had just fired a broadside and was turning. Theories of why she sank range from French fire to her being overweight with cannon and troops.
The excavation and salvage of the Mary Rose created a milestone in the field of maritime archaeology and remains the largest underwater excavation and recovery ever undertaken in the world. Each object in the new museum – from human fleas to giant guns – was raised from the seabed and carefully conserved through a groundbreaking process that is still ongoing. The science behind the ongoing conservation work and underwater tales of salvage are highlighted, detailing the world leading archaeology pioneered through the care of the ship and the painstaking work to discover more about Tudor life.
Historian Dan Snow, and ambassador for the new Museum said: “The story of the Mary Rose has fascinated people for generations. This tremendous new Museum housing together for the first time the hull of the ship and its many treasured artefacts will give us a sense of what life was like on aboard a Tudor ship like never before, helping to preserve the history of the Mary Rose for generations to come.”
The Mary Rose is the only sixteenth century warship on display anywhere in the world. The ongoing £35 million heritage project to build the new museum and complete the current conservation programme on the ship and her contents has received £23m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The HLF has been an ongoing supporter of the Mary Rose and, in addition to its £23m investment has awarded a number of other grants totalling £9.5 million over the past 18 years.
Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “The drama of the day the Mary Rose was raised from the depths of the Solent is forever seared in my memory – the most significant archaeological find in our nation’s maritime history. Right from the start the Heritage Lottery Fund has worked closely with the Mary Rose Trust on this groundbreaking project to reunite the 500-year-old warship with thousands of artefacts telling her story. It’s incredibly exciting that, after much painstaking conservation work, the Mary Rose is finally ready to go back on show in a wonderful new space where she will undoubtedly wow all who come to visit.”
The ongoing work with the hull and care of other artefacts requires visitor numbers and the environment to be carefully controlled. In order to achieve this tickets for the museum are time and date stamped. Visitors choose the time and date of their visit and can plan their day in Portsmouth and the Historic Dockyard visiting the Mary Rose Museum at the time on their ticket.
John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust said: “The new Mary Rose Museum marks a new and exciting chapter in the history of The Mary Rose, providing an astonishing resource for the world to learn about the Tudors and a centre of excellence for maritime archaeology and conservation. The museum is testament to all those who have worked so hard on this remarkable  year project to locate, salvage and conserve the ship and her contents. We look forward to welcoming the first visitors through the door on 31 May.”
On sale from 8 April 2013 at www.historicdockyard.co.uk or at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
To book tickets: http://www.historicdockyard.co.uk/tickets
Nearest public transport links: http://www.historicdockyard.co.uk/visitors/howtogethere.php
For further information on the Mary Rose project: www.maryrose.org
For Frequently Asked Questions – www.historicdockyard.co.uk/maryrose2013