THE opening of the new £35m Mary Rose museum has been postponed, The News can reveal.
Trustees had planned to open the attraction this autumn to mark the 30th anniversary of when the Tudor warship was raised from the Solent.
Now the museum is set to open early next year.
The decision has been made to ensure the air-conditioned glass cabinets which will protect thousands of priceless artefacts from Henry VIII’s flagship are working properly.
Mary Rose Trust chief executive Rear Admiral John Lippiett told The News: ‘I’m not prepared to rush it. For quite a while, I had hoped that by around November this year we would be in a position to open to the public, which would have been lovely because it’s the 30th anniversary in October of the raising of Mary Rose.
‘But I’ve always said to the staff and funders that we must not rush this and cut any corners.’
Construction of the iconic museum building at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is finished but bosses are still waiting for all the internal fixtures to be fitted.
The visitors’ entrance, toilets and cafe are ready but there is currently only the ship’s hull and a few Tudor cannons inside.
Testing is taking place to check whether the large glass showcases, which will house more than 10,000 artefacts, are airtight.
Rear-Adml Lippiett said: ‘The environmental conditions in which to put all these priceless treasures are extremely challenging to meet.
‘We are dealing with a 500-year-old project which is of immense international value. Were we to cut corners to meet a man-made milestone date and it went wrong then I should be taken up to the quarter deck and shot. It’s just not worth rushing it.’
Work began on the new museum in 2009 after a £21m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The remainder of the £35m project has been raised through private donations and fundraising.
Rear-Adml Lippiett has set a new provisional opening date for ‘early next year’ but is not being exact.
He said: ‘We will get this right to ensure countless generations in the future will be able to enjoy and admire the Mary Rose.
‘We’ve grown our workforce to get all the artefacts up there. It’s a huge undertaking. No-one has mounted an exhibition like this before in this way and we don’t know what the challenges will be.’