Over the last few months, the Collections Team have been preparing for a very daunting, but incredibly exciting project: The digitisation of the huge Mary Rose archive! Thanks to support from Arts Council England’s Designated Development Fund, we have been able to kick off Phase 1 of the project, starting with digitising our photographic material.
One of the first steps for the project was establishing the facilities within which the digitisation work could take place. Through a fantastic team effort, we have transformed the Archives Room into a working space within which digitisation can take place.
All the sorting, clearing, and making and setting out the furniture was hard work – but completely worth it once the computers, scanners and assorted slide cleaning equipment were ready for the team to start using.
Recruiting Collections Volunteers and Training
In January this year, the Mary Rose Trust launched a recruitment campaign for Collections Volunteers to join the project. We advertised on the Mary Rose website, via social media (including @MaryRoseMuseum) and even through a BBC Radio Solent interview on the project with our very own Chief Executive, Helen Bonser-Wilton.
We were overwhelmed by the response and support we received and in early February, 15 Collections Volunteers joined the team to assist us with the project. Since then we have been training them on the processes for cleaning and digitising the 35mm slides (with copied material), and very soon they will be equipped with the skills they need to start on working their way through the huge number of slides we have!
To help us keep track of our 15,000 target, we have a digitisation ‘thermometer’ that will help us to visualise our progress. For every 500 images that are digitised, the Mary Rose gets lifted one notch closer to the surface. On this thermometer, the hull currently rests at the bottom of the seabed, but as we continue to share our newly digitised material monthly via this blog, we will see her being raised to the 15,000 target!
As we are digitising the images in chronological order and following the story of the Mary Rose, we will be sharing some of the incredible images with you via this platform. They will cover a wide range of details in our long and complex story, from the divers working underwater to excavate the site, to the raising of the artefacts to the surface (including the ship), to the work of the Conservation Team preparing artefacts for display to the general public.
Stay tuned over the coming months for updates on the project!