Recently I asked our museum volunteers to tell us some of their stories about visitors and the collection, with the intention of collecting them for a follow-up to this blog from last year. This particular one stood out...
We value authenticity in the museum, and it's always nice, when visitors ask, "That's not real, is it?" to be able to say "Oh yes, everything is real". The Mary Rose may only be 40% of a ship, but she's 100% genuine.
Despite the reputation of "The Man", museum staff and volunteers aren't actually allowed to 'tell you off', the worst we can do is ask you not to do whatever you did again (and it has to be something bad, like climbing on artefacts or ignoring barriers).
A lot of people use the same starting point when they ask our volunteers questions in the museum; "This may be a stupid question, but..." The thing is, 99.999% of the time it isn't. They tend to be pretty obvious questions, such as when the Mary Rose sank (19th July 1545, fact-fans!), or were there any survivors (30-40), but that doesn't make them stupid.
I've always felt an affinity for the ship's dog. I was the same age when the ship was raised as the dog appears to have been when the ship sank, so there's an almost spiritual connection, but I think it's mostly the palaeontologist in me being drawn towards this unique member of the crew, learning about his life from his remains.
Last Saturday was the 32nd Anniversary of the Mary Rose's raising from the Solent seabed, which took place on the 11 October 1982 and was broadcast live across the world. We asked the Mary Rose Museum's Conservation Manager Dr Eleanor Schofield the question - what has science got to do with the Mary Rose?
As well as the various ship-to-ship weapons, there were pikes, daggers and swords, longbows and handguns for long distance attacks, and rather nasty antipersonnel weapons such as the hailshot piece, a short barrelled gun that was used to blast iron dice at enemy boarders at close range.
Working at the Mary Rose, it seems hard to believe people who say that there aren't enough women in science. We have a healthy number of female scientists here at the museum specialising in all sorts of fields. Conservation, archaeology and teaching are the most popular however; physics still seems to be a subject left to the boys.
The Mary Rose Museum stands as a memorial to these men, but rather than concentrating on how they died, it tells a far more important story, that of how they lived and worked, allowing us to appreciate them as the people they were almost 500 years ago.
21/05/2014 13:23 BST
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