Mary Rose - Display


Since the decision to salvage the Mary Rose was taken, there had been discussion of where she would eventually go on permanent display. The east end of Portsea Island at Eastney emerged as an early alternative, but was rejected because of parking problems and the distance from the dockyard where she was originally built. Placing the ship next to the famous flagship of Horatio Nelson, HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard was proposed in July 1981. A group called the Maritime Preservation Society even suggested Southsea Castle, where Henry VIII had witnessed the sinking, as a final resting place and there was widespread scepticism to the dockyard location. At one point a county councillor even threatened to withdraw promised funds if the dockyard site became more than an interim solution. As costs for the project mounted, there was also a debate in the Council chamber and in the local paper The News whether the money could be spent more appropriately. Although author David Childs writes that in the early 1980s "the debate was as a fiery one", the project was never seriously threatened because of the great symbolic importance of the Mary Rose to the naval history of both Portsmouth and England.

Since the mid-1980s, the hull of the Mary Rose has been kept in a covered dry dock while undergoing conservation. Although the hull has been open to the public for viewing, the need for keeping the ship saturated first with water and later a polyethylene glycol (PEG) solution has meant that visitors have been separated from the hull by a glass barrier. Despite this, the specially built ship hall had been visited by over seven million visitors as of 2007, since it first opened on 4 October 1983, just under a year after it was successfully salvaged.

A separate Mary Rose Museum is housed in a structure called No. 5 Boathouse near the ship hall and was opened to the public on 9 July 1984. It contains displays explaining the history of the ship and conserved artefacts, from entire bronze cannons to household items. A new museum has been planned since 2005 where the fully conserved hull will be displayed in a way that allows visitors to come up close, without restrictive visual barriers. In September 2009 the temporary Mary Rose display hall was finally closed to visitors to facilitate construction of the new £35 million museum building, which is expected to open to the public in 2012.

Read more about this topic:  Mary Rose

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