Construction marks 28th anniversary of warship's raising

Construction work has begun on a new museum for the only 16th-century warship on display anywhere in the world.

Today is 28 years since the Mary Rose was raised from the Solent seabed in front of a worldwide television audience of more than 60m people.

And the anniversary is being marked by commencing work on a £35m museum that will reunite the hull and its 19,000 artefacts for the first time since they were brought up from the seabed.

The new museum (see architect’s impression above) at Portsmouth dockyard is due to open in Autumn 2012 and is intended to resemble a wooden jewellery box with timber plank cladding. It is Europe’s biggest new museum project this decade.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided £21m for the project with the Mary Rose Trust finding the remainder in order to replace the current temporary museum which only has space to display five per cent of the Tudor items recovered with the wreck.

Rear Admiral John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: ‘The significance of the Mary Rose collection cannot be underestimated and we still have a £4m fundraising target to meet before the museum can be opened to the public in 2012, the UK’s Olympic year.

‘One year on since the launch of the Mary Rose Public Appeal we remain reliant on the public to continue to ensure this national treasure is preserved for future generations.’

The ship, one of Henry VIII’s favourites, was launched in 1511 but sank during a battle with France in 1545.

Since its raising the hull has had to be sprayed with a preserving chemical to maintain the timbers, which has shrouded the hull in mist.

But when the new museum opens the mist will have disappeared as the ship will be in the final four years of a 34-year project to preserve its timbers and will be conserved by controlled air drying until 2016.

Philippe Jouy, from contractors Warings, said: ‘This is a unique project which will pose some unique challenges for our dedicated team.

‘Not least is the immense care required to build a modern museum around the precious timbers of the ship as the final stages of its conservation continues.

‘The museum will represent the very best in 21st century architecture and construction, providing a beautiful and secure environment for the finest collection of 16th century artefacts in the world.’

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Picture courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects.