Getting to know... the Mary Rose Museum
- The Mary Rose
- 3 June 2014
Find out more about the six Museum of the Year finalists with our weekly Q&As. This time, the Mary Rose Museum talks Tudors, toyboys and Timmy Mallett.
Age: I originally opened in October 1983 as the Mary Rose Shiphall, but after a major regeneration project, I reopened last year as the Mary Rose Museum. So, either I'm one or 31, depending on how you look at it.
Describe yourself in three words: Modern, yet historic.
What’s new with you? Pretty much everything! As well as the new building, there are lots of lovely artefacts which have never been on public display before now.
What is your most treasured possession? It has to be the Mary Rose herself. The pride of Henry VIII’s fleet, she spent 30-odd years defending England from her enemies before sinking in 1545 during the Battle of the Solent. Apart from a few visits in the 1830s, the Mary Rose lay undisturbed until the 1960s, when a chap called Alexander McKee began searching for her. Nearly 20 years later, in 1982, the Mary Rose was returned to the surface on live telly, watched by over 60 million people.
Who was your most famous visitor? I’ve had a few: The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, Timmy Mallett…
Any museum pets? As well as the pigeons that love basking on my roof, and the jellyfish that fill No.1 Basin in the summer, my museum pet is Hatch, the Mary Rose dog. He used to be head of rat-catching, but now he simply basks in the admiration of the public.
I shouldn’t leave without experiencing… My glass lift. It gives you a good look at the Mary Rose, which you never got to see before, and really adds a sense of scale to ship.
You have a museum crush on… I know I’m probably supposed to say the National Museum of the Royal Navy, or one of the many other excellent attractions that live beside me in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, but I actually have a HUGE crush on the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. It's home of the ill-fated flagship of King Gustav Adolphus of Sweden, which sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. The staff there have given me so much assistance over the years. Plus, even though it opened before I did, the Vasa is younger than me, so it’s like having a toyboy!
Visit the Mary Rose Museum's Museum of the Year page.