It's remarkable to think that it has been a year since the Mary Rose Museum reopened. We (rightly) made a big fuss when we opened the new museum back in 2013, with bowmen at Southsea Castle, wreaths at the wreck site and a giant flag lowered by sea cadets at the front of the museum. That centred around revealing the new museum, last year's relaunch focused on revealing the Mary Rose herself.
I still remember the first time I went onto one of the main galleries shortly before we reopened on 19 July 2016, with the mirror image of the ship facing the remains of the Mary Rose herself. I was so impressed, thinking, "surely everybody is going to rate this five stars on TripAdvisor!" Of course, it's easy to get excited when you're part of the story. I have worked for the Mary Rose Trust for 10 years and have a connection with the ship, so the relaunch was a particularly exciting time.
For me, launch day started at 5am, as I had to get the museum unlocked and ready for the first radio interview. Later that morning, banks of press and special guests gathered on the balcony, the lights were dimmed and the music built to a crescendo before the enormous flag dropped, revealing the ship in all her glory. The response from the world on social media was huge and exciting - at times I had to turn my phone off due to the constant buzzing of notifications! I left the museum at 7pm that day feeling elated but exhausted.
The next day, when we opened the new-look Museum to the general public for the first time, it was even better. People delighted in the new views of the ship. The projections of the crew onto the ship proved popular. These had been kept secret until the day of the launch, despite the best efforts of some of our more talkative volunteers. Once the ship was revealed, we were finally able to shout about it and all our staff and volunteers who had been involved in the filming for the projections were able to tell people about their starring roles and post their costume pictures on social media (must do that with mine too!)
I spent most of the day taking photos of the museum, capturing people's enjoyment of immersing themselves in our Tudor time capsule. It was wonderful seeing the museum being used by its intended audience and it gave me a warm feeling inside. The Mary Rose had been revealed, and the people loved it.
We had an amazing first week last July, with visitors flooding into the museum and enjoying all there was to see, and I am delighted to say it has stayed that way over the last twelve months. The public's reaction was the real test and we are proud to say that according to TripAdvisor, 88% of visitors since the reopening last July have given the Museum five stars.