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The Mary Rose was King Henry VIII’s favourite warship, named after his sister. Launched in 1511, she eventually sank in battle against France in the Solent in 1545. The starboard side of the ship’s hull fell deep into the seabed, and along with more than 19,000 artefacts, was preserved by natural minerals until she was recovered in 1982. The starboard hull now takes centre stage in the £27m Mary Rose Museum, which reunites the ship with its contents and crew, providing the new centrepiece of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
The design – by Pringle Brandon Perkins+Will as architect for the interior, with Wilkinson Eyre Architects – is a story of collaboration among client and team, combining conservation and specialist technical expertise to create a unique design.
Like crafting a jewellery box to house a precious gem, the museum is designed from the inside-out, taking many of its cues from the historic ship, allowing its hull, artefacts and exhibitions to take centre stage. At its heart, within a carefully controlled environment, is the starboard section of the hull of the Mary Rose.
Alongside it, a virtual port-side has been created over three levels to view the ship and house the context gallery, containing guns on their original gun carriages, cannonballs, gun furniture, stores, chests, rope and rigging. Visitors walk between the conserved starboard section of the hull and virtual hull on three levels, seeing the main shipboard material in context as though they are on board the Mary Rose.