Mary Rose Museum Opens

31 May 2013

The iconic Mary Rose can now be remembered forever thanks to Warings, as the new museum built to house the world famous warship opened its doors to the public yesterday at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The new museum takes visitors on a unique journey through the ship whilst providing a taste of Tudor life with the most comprehensive collection of artefacts showcased, from musical instruments to nit combs containing 500 year old lice, to longbows and two tonne guns. For the first time, crew members are brought to life and visitors come face-to-face with a carpenter, a cook and even ‘Hatch’, the ship’s dog.

The museum has been constructed around the Grade II No.3 dock, adjacent to her sister attraction, the HMS Victory. The building is conceived as a finely crafted, wooden jewellery box, clad in timber planks in response to both the structure of the original ship and HMS Victory. The new internal structure will enhance the visitor’s experience with new galleries corresponding to the principal deck levels – castle, main and the third (Orlop). – running the length of the ship, imitating the missing port side and allowing the original artefacts to be displayed in context. Galleries at either end will display additional material related to the corresponding deck level, and include further artefacts and hands-on experiences.

The hull will remain on its original recovery cradle and will not be moved from its current position in the dry dock. The ‘hotbox’, in which the ship will be kept sealed until the conservation process is complete in 2017, will mean visitors can view ports from each of the new deck-level galleries.

This landmark project, which sees the only 16th century warship on display in the world, has been more than 500 years in the making, as the Warings team started on site on 4th October 2010, 500 years since the first part was laid down on Henry VIII’s beloved ship. The ship was originally built in two years, and Warings completed the museum in just over two years.

The construction of the new museum presented a range of challenges.  However, the Warings team understood the importance of preserving a good design while delivering an affordable solution, and also ensuring all risks were fully considered. The project involved first demolishing and then rebuilding around the fragile warship, which had to be kept at an optimum temperature and sprayed continuously with wax preservative.  Warings’ managers were on call 24 hours a day for two years to respond in case the system broke down.

Warings redesigned the original structure from a heavy steel structure, which was supported from four piled support points outside the line of the existing dock, to a lightweight frame solution, partially bearing within the dock itself. The design reduced risk and ensured the project was within budget.