The Mary Rose Trust has secretly shortlisted four frontrunners in the competition to design its new museum in Portsmouth.
The AJ can reveal that the quartet vying to land the multimillion pound scheme are Wilkinson Eyre, Austin Smith: Lord, Higgins Gardner & Partners and a joint bid by Wilford/Schupp/Dyson.
The winner will get the chance to create a 'world-class museum' and a permanent home for Henry VIII's favourite warship, the Mary Rose, which was raised from the Solent in 1982 and is now on display in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard.
Since its recovery the ship has undergone constant conservation and has already attracted almost 6.5 million visitors.
The new museum will have space to house the hull, Tudor artefacts and mount major exhibitions. It will also feature areas devoted to maritime archaeology and conservation.
The museum expects the project to open to the public in 2011 to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the first voyage of the ill-fated ship.
It is hoped that the new centre will attract an additional 150,000 new visitors a year to Portsmouth, as well as 'enhancing the city's international reputation for excellence'.