Design team remodels Mary Rose as interactive museum

A collaborative design team consisting of Land Design Studio, Wilkinson Eyre Architects and Pringle Brandon has been appointed to produce a permanent museum on-board the 16th century relic battleship the Mary Rose.

The Mary Rose Trust selected the team from a list of seven proposals, followed by a shortlist of four. The three consultancies were appointed at the beginning of the month and are now compiling a detailed application for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Land Design Studio is to develop what creative director Peter Higgins describes as a ‘major experiential exhibition’. Part of the museum will be housed in a glass gallery conceived by Wilkinson Eyre and Pringle Brandon. This gallery is to be constructed in the missing section of the ship’s hull, creating a ‘virtual’ mirror to reflect the preserved original structure.

Accidentally sunk in 1545, the Mary Rose was raised from the seabed in 1982, bringing with it a host of remarkably preserved Tudor artefacts that will form a key component of the exhibition. Since then, it has remained in a dry dock in Portsmouth as the only 16th century warship on display in the world. ‘Some phenomenal things have been recovered, such as leather shoes and musical instruments, plus more usual things such as pewter. These give a snapshot of Tudor life exactly from the time of Henry VIII. We will produce an interpretative story using these objects,’ says Higgins.

The space also allows for panoramic projections to create an immersive environmental atmosphere. These may include the sea, clouds or ghosted versions of the crew, according to Higgins. ‘As a massive experiential project this is an amazing opportunity. It will fuse the synthetic environments of theme parks with the didactic rigour of precious objects, all set in one of the greatest recovered artefacts in the world,’ he says.

Additional museum gallery space will extend into the dry dock; a shop, restaurant and café are also proposed for this area. The building will be housed under a low, shell structure placed over the existing ship hall.

The architectural proposals will see deck galleries run along the length of the ship, corresponding to the original deck levels. Pringle Brandon partner Chris Brandon brings to the project his skills as both architect and marine archaeologist.

Due to the delicate and constant preservation that the ship’s hull requires, the museum is not expected to open until 2011, which coincides with the 500th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the Mary Rose.


• Land Design Studio – exhibition design and interpretation

• Wilkinson Eyre Architects – architect

• Pringle Brandon – interior architect

• Heritage Lottery Fund will consider Stage 1 funding application from December

• Mary Rose Trust is guardian of the ship and houses a collection of 19 000 recovered objects


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