New museum should signal renaissance in tourism

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If the Historic Dockyard is the jewel in the crown of Portsmouth’s tourism industry then the Mary Rose must be the pearl in the oyster of that magnificent collection.

Indeed, the shell of that oyster is the stunning £27m museum which itself is being described as a finely-crafted ‘wooden jewellery box’.

It will house the remains of Henry VIII’s flagship and the thousands of artefacts belonging to the men who went down with her in the Solent in 1545.

Now, at last, as we report today, we know when we will finally be able to see the ship and her contents reunited after 468 years.

The new museum will open on May 31 and should, if the dockyard and the city council promote it properly, lead to a visitor bonanza this summer and for decades to come.

The excavation and salvage of the Mary Rose created a milestone in the field of maritime archaeology. It remains the largest underwater excavation and recovery ever undertaken in the world. We live with her all the time, but we should never underestimate the international kudos the project has brought to the Portsmouth area.

No matter how hard others might try to shift the emphasis, it is the Royal Navy and the city’s association with all things maritime, which are synonymous with Portsmouth.

The museum’s opening will cement that theme even deeper in the psyche of the paying public.

And, hopefully, it will have been worth the 31-year wait.

For it was in 1982, and with Portsmouth fixed firmly in the world’s gaze, that the hull was raised from the Solent seabed.

But ever since, the ship and its contents have been stored separately. As fascinating as they both were in their individual buildings, they were dislocated. The story did not flow. Now it will and together the story of the Mary Rose and the men who served in her will be complete.

Yes, it has cost millions. Yes, the £17 that will be required to get into museum might seem steep.

But Portsmouth has a world-beating attraction in its midst and we should shout it from the nearest yardarm.