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Mary Rose Museum sets sail once again

Today, The Mary Rose Museum at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, reopened after Como completed a development programme worth £4.5 million. 

Yesterday marked the 471st anniversary of the Tudor ship’s sinking – Henry VIII’s favourite warship. For the first time in 23 years visitors will be able to experience the ship in a completely new way. The museum’s new-look provides stunning panoramic views of the ship from all nine galleries through floor-to-ceiling glazing on the lower and main decks.

Como was appointed in May 2015 to remove the existing 'Hot Box' around the ship, install new permanent glazing to the viewing galleries and undertake other structural changes around the ship. Como also worked to maintain environmental conditions – particularly humidity and temperature – which was critical to the stability and life of the artefacts. Contractors had to enter the site through an airlock and constant measurement and checking on conditions took place regularly.

Extensive works were carried out around the ancient relic and several tonnes of scaffold had to be brought in and erected around the ship. The ship also had to be protected from any falling debris, dust and tools. Works were carried out in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard which plays host to thousands of visits while parts of the Mary Rose museum were still accessible to the public.

A unique Tudor time capsule, the Mary Rose has been undergoing continuous conservation since she was raised in 1982. The hull was first sprayed with a mist of fresh chilled water and then with a water-soluble wax from 1994 to April 2013 when the Mary Rose entered a stage of controlled air-drying.

Now, upper deck visitors enter the Weston Ship Hall via an airlock and are separated from the ship only by a glass balcony where they will be treated to a spectacular and new visual way of telling her unique story. In total, the Mary Rose Museum project cost £39 million, including £26 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

Como Director, Darran Brand, said: “Not only was this an interesting and iconic project to work on, it was also a one-off in terms of its history and the way we worked around such a precious artefact. The team have done a great job and we will be able to take away a lot of learnings of how to preserve important objects while undertaking an extensive fit-out.”

Helen Bonser-Wilton, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: “The story of the Mary Rose spans almost 500 years and this is a very exciting close to the latest chapter in her history. From the 20th July visitors will have stunning panoramic views of the ship from all nine galleries. This is the culmination of decades of hard work by the Mary Rose team and we can’t wait to share this stunning new experience with everyone. We would like to thank the generosity of committed friends and supporters who are passionate about the Museum and its work.”

 The Mary Rose in numbers:

1510 – the year the Mary Rose was built

600 trees were used to build her

1545 – the year the Mary Rose sunk, on the 19th July during the 3rd French War

500 men on board, only 35 survived

5 foot 7 inches was the average height of a crew member

The Mary Rose sank to the bottom of the Solent lying on the seabed at a 60° angle

1971 - the year the Mary Rose site was discovered and excavation begun

27,831 dives made to the Mary Rose during the modern excavation project

22,710 hours of marine archaeological excavation of the seabed

437 years the Mary Rose spent underwater

1982 – the year the Mary Rose was raised from the seabed

60 million people worldwide watched this event

19,000 artefacts have been recovered from the site so far including:

6,600 arrow bits

9 barrels containing bones of fully-grown cattle

1 full skeleton of a dog aged between 18 months and 2 years old. He goes by the name of Hatch

100 tons of water extracted from the Hull and its environment over the last 3 years

The Mary Rose has received 9 million visitors since she was first displayed in 1983

2016 – the year the Mary Rose Museum reopens to reveal the Tudor ship to the world, visitors will be able to view the ship from all 9 galleries in the museum

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