Mary Rose Museum Opening Date Announced

A new £35 million museum housing Henry VIII's flagship the Mary Rose is to open in Portsmouth next month.

The only sixteenth century warship to be on display anywhere in the world will be at the centre of the new exhibition at the Historic Dockyard.

The opening on May 31 marks just over 30 years since the hull was raised from the Solent in 1982 and 437 years after it sank on July 19, 1545.

The museum will reunite the Tudor warship with 19,000 artefacts raised from the wreck site in the Solent.

The ongoing conservation project has been made possible with a £23 million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant.

The ship sank in full view of Henry VIII while leading the attack on a French invasion fleet during the Battle of the Solent.

The new museum, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects with Pringle Brandon interior designers, 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. Artefacts are displayed to provide visitors with an insight into what these decks would have looked like moments before the ship sank.

The historic items, including the skeleton of Hatch, the ship's dog, will also be arranged in galleries by theme to help reveal some of the personal stories of life on board.

The science behind the ongoing conservation work and underwater tales of salvage will also be explained in the museum displays.

The hull itself is still undergoing the final phase of conservation work and is currently 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 four or five years' time, the internal walls will be removed and the hull will be viewed directly, bringing it closer to visitors and the artefacts.

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 42-year project to locate, salvage and conserve the ship and her contents.

"We look forward to welcoming the first visitors through the door on May 31."

Historian Dan Snow, 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 onboard a Tudor ship like never before, helping to preserve the history of the Mary Rose for generations to come."

Lincoln Clarke, chief executive of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, said: "The Mary Rose being lifted from the waters of the Solent in 1982 was a moment of national pride.

"Thirty years later, and through pioneering British conservation, engineering and design we have a new museum that provides the world with a treasure trove of Tudor history."

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "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."