The old Mary Rose Museum has closed but the new Mary Rose Museum is nearly finished and will open to the public on the 31 May 2013
For almost three decades since being raised from the Solent, the hull of the Mary Rose – Henry VIII’s 500-year-old flagship – has been continuously sprayed, first with chilled fresh water to remove salt and then with Polyethlene Glycol (PEG), a water soluble wax which prevents shrinkage of the timbers, having been submerged underwater for almost 500 years. Now, just four weeks from the official opening of the new £27m Mary Rose Museum, staff at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard have announced that these spray jets have been turned off for the first time today (Monday 29th April), marking a new historic milestone in the conservation of the ship.
The Tudor warship will now enter into an air drying phase, where over 100 tons of water will be extracted from the hull over the next 4 to 5 years. With a pioneering building design, the new museum encircles a “Hot Box” chamber that houses the hull of the ship as this highly technical drying out process takes place. This notable design will enable visitors the intriguing opportunity to see conservation in action through windows into the airtight chamber where the hull lies, as fabric ducts direct conditioned air, in a highly sophisticated pattern, to gradually remove water from the wood. This carefully monitored process has only been executed on this scale on the Swedish warship Vasa, and the Mary Rose Trust has worked closely with them to learn from their experience and the Trust team are now considered to be the leading experts on maritime conservation in the world.
More here on the conservation of the Mary Rose, or visit the Mary Rose Museum website here.