Well, hasn’t 2013 been a busy year! Here’s our rundown of what happened.
January started very coldly, with snow covering most of the UK, and we had to close the museum for a few days. For those people eager to get their Mary Rose fix, though, we launched our new-look website, which you’re reading now!
It was also when we launched our appeal for the last £35,000 needed to complete the museum. It’s a credit to all our supporters that we managed to finish it in less than a month!
Despite being months away from completion, we managed to hold our first event in the new museum in February! The Hampshire Chamber of Commerce got a sneak preview of the museum, although most of the event was held in our entrance pavilion, as the Admiral’s gallery, where we currently hold events, was still unfinished at the time. They all seemed to enjoy themselves, though.
Back in our old Museum, we had a final fanfare as we hosted the Les Misérables exhibition on behalf of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, featuring costumes and props from the recent film adaptation starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. Over the two weeks it was open we had hundreds of visitors through the doors, the busiest we’d been in months!
April was the month where we finally got an answer to the question “When’s the new museum opening?”, as on 2nd April we finally announced that it would be on 31st May, 2013. It was also the day we closed the old Museum, which had been welcoming visitors since 1984. It’s now home to the Historic Boat Workshop.
We also reached a major milestone in the conservation of the ship, as the wax sprays were turned off after 19 years. She’s currently drying out, which is why she’s covered in black ducting, which should be completed in 2016.
May was an important month, as it was when we had a visit from the Mayor of Maizuru, Portsmouth’s twin town in Japan!
Good grief we were busy! All the press coverage from the end of May continued into June as people flooded in to see this amazing new attraction.
It was also the month that Alexander L’Strange and his team performed ‘Ahoy! Sing for the Mary Rose’, a musical extravaganza as part of 2013’s Portsmouth Festivities, a preview of which was performed at the launch event.
In July we received our 100,000th visitor, Sue Coombs from Salisbury. We were so busy we had to extend our opening hours during the summer holidays, just so we could let more people in.
August saw our first major Dockyard event, the Victorious festival. As well as the public, we also acted as the green room for bands such as Maximo Park, who later tweeted that we were the “best backstage in a while”!
September was a bit quieter, though not by much. Amongst our visitors was a bus full of Mayors, brought in by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth as part of a tour of the city.
September was also the 500th Anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, and as the Mary Rose had been involved in troop movements, the museum was made part of the Flodden EcoMuseum, a collection of sites around the UK that told a much wider story about the events of the battle.
The 31st Anniversary of the Raising of the Mary Rose, and we got a lot of people reminiscing about where they were when the ship came up. You can read some fo them on Storify!
We also hit another landmark as our 250,000th visitor, Mavis Roberts from Bishop’s Stortford, arrived in the Museum. We hadn’t expected to have this many visitors until late December, so that was an early Christmas present!
We also took part in the “Stand up to Cancer“ day on October 18th, showing our support for this good cause. You can help too by visiting http://www.standuptocancer.org.uk/
Then came our first award, from the Guild of British Travel writers, for Best UK Project. Then we won the Shaping Portsmouth City Image award, and towards the end of the Month we, along with Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, won gold in the Beautiful South Awards for Large Visitor Attraction!
On the 22nd, we were taken over for the day by pupils from St Judes School, who replaced our staff and volunteers doing important jobs such as interpretation of the artefacts, meeting and greeting and even social media!
The Festival of Christmas (which started in November, but that’s busy enough so we’ve stuck it in December) saw an unprecedented number of people pass though the museum, with long queues dwarfing those for HMS Victory. Not sure they took that well…
December also saw our 100,000th school visitor, one of the kids at Harrison
Primary School in Fareham. Our Education team were also blessed with an award the same week, the Silver award for Best Education Product at the British Educational Travel Association (BETA) British Youth Travel Awards.
Finally, on 31st of December, we learned that our Chief Executive, Rear-Admiral John Lippiett, and Professor Albert Mark Jones, Head of Collections, had been recognised in the New Years Honours List! Congratulations to both of them, we’ll be covering this in full next week!
But what of the future? What’s to come in 2014? You’ll have to watch this space and find out…