Work on the "unique" Mary Rose Museum, the £35 million final step in the resurrection of Henry VIII's Tudor warship, has begun at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on the 28th anniversary of the vessel being raised from the Solent.
International construction giant Warings, who have been awarded the £16.3 million contract to build the Museum, will unite the ship with 19,000 immaculately preserved artefacts recovered alongside it in an "unparalleled experience" which is expected to open by the end of 2012.
The juggernaut’s fully conserved hull and treasures will be designed in the shape of a "jewellery box" flanked by wooden planks, replacing a current temporary site which only accommodates a fraction of the Tudor items recovered when the ship was dredged up in 1982.
"This is a unique project which will pose some unique challenges for our dedicated team," admitted Philippe Jouy, the Managing Director of Warings, who said the company was "well-equipped" and "proud" to be leading the "landmark development".
"Immense care is required to build a modern museum around the precious timbers of the ship as the final stages of its conservation continues.
"The museum will represent the very best in 21st century architecture and construction, providing a beautiful and secure environment for the finest collection of 16th century artefacts in the world."
John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said £4 million was still required to match a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £21 million for the project awarded in January 2008.
A public campaign, The Mary Rose Appeal, was launched on the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession to the throne in 2009. "The significance of the Mary Rose cannot be underestimated," he added. "We remain reliant on the public to continue to ensure this national treasure is preserved for future generations."
The ship is currently shrouded in preserving chemical mists and will be hidden from view until the final phase of conservation, when controlled air drying will be deployed in a process expected to last until 2016.
An estimated audience of 60 million people watched the ship being raised live, and highlights among the 1,000 items in the existing museum include complete skeletons of crew members, rare textiles, shoes, jars of ointment and nit combs.
Find out more about the plans for the new museum in this Culture24 feature.
Watch John Lippiett talk about the new museum: