Ship closes Sunday but separate museum housing artefacts to remain open

Work begins on a new £35million Mary Rose museum at Portsmouth’s historic dockyard begins on Monday (21 September) removing the 500-year-old Tudor warship’s hull from public view until 2012.

Caption: Artichects impression of the new Mary Rose museum to open in 2012 – Wilkinson Eyre

However, a separate museum at the historic dockyards remains open with thousands of the best artefacts on display. 

Visitors are being urged to enjoy the sight of this magnificent vessel, the only Tudor warship on display in the world, before she is withdrawn temporarily from view on September 20th for a new museum to be built around her.

In one of the most ambitious and significant heritage projects in recent years, the Mary Rose’s hull will be housed in a brand new boat-shaped museum. For the first time visitors will be able to see a state-of-the-art recreation of the wreck’s missing side.

The Mary Rose Trust has received a £21 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to complete the conservation of the hull and build a permanent museum which will also house the thousands of treasured artefacts found with the ship.

The existing Mary Rose Museum, located elsewhere on site, contains over 1000 original Tudor artefacts and will remain open throughout the construction phase.

Chief Executive John Lippiett explained: “We have devised an imaginative programme of events and interpretations during the closure including the British Library’s national travelling exhibition Henry VIII: Man and Monarch at the end of the year”

The new building will be a finely crafted, wooden “jewellery box”, clad in timber planks both reflecting the structure of the original ship and HMS Victory alongside. The timber will be painted black and inscribed with carvings used by the crew of the Mary Rose to identify their personal belongings. A balcony to the west will offer visitors a spectacular view over the historic dockyard and its numerous 18th and 19th Century Grade 1 and 2* listed buildings.

The new permanent Mary Rose structure will complete the visitor experience with galleries corresponding to the principal deck levels – castle, main and hold – running the length of the ship to imitate the missing port side of the Mary Rose and allowing the original artefacts to be displayed in context.

On display will be more than 60% of the collection of artefacts recovered by maritime archaeologists including uniforms, weaponry, medical instruments, ceramic mugs, eating utensils, silver tankards, dice, playing cards and more

After opening the new museum in 2012, The Mary Rose will remain in its current ‘hotbox’ in the centre of the museum until the conservation process is complete in 2016. Visitors will be able to witness the ongoing wet and dry conservation through new viewing ports from deck-level galleries.

On completion of the air-drying phase, the enclosure will be removed, allowing visitors to view the Mary Rose’s original timbers – the original dream when she was raised from the seabed in 1982.

The Mary Rose has been described by historian Dr David Starkey as this country’s Pompeii, painting the finest picture of the world of sixteenth century life.

Eight million people have visited the Mary Rose in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Currently visitors can see the Mary Rose ship hall and museum with an all-inclusive ticket which gives entry to the other iconic historic ships alongside namely HMS Victory, immortalised as Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar; the Victorian HMS Warrior 1860 and the Royal Naval Museum.

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, HLF has supported more than 28,800 projects, allocating over £4.3billion across the UK.