New & now
‘An island at the crossroads’ exhibition opening at the newly restored Malta Maritime Museum
The exhibition is centred around the concept of Malta’s ideal position in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

Malta maritime museum

The Malta Maritime Museum, so aptly perched right by the sea from which it draws its inspiration, is in the process of being reborn following a closure of about four years, during which its halls have been stripped bare of their artefacts to enable a major overhaul throughout the museum.

Restoration and restructuring works have been divided in phases, with the initial phase partly financed through the EEA Norway Grants 2014-2021 for a total of nearly €2 million.

This phase saw the restoration, demolition, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the dilapidated areas of the building, including the silos, warehouses, main staircase and roofs.

Half of the Norway grant went into the setting up of a Digitisation Unit within Heritage Malta, and the purchase of a substantial state of the art digitisation hardware setup necessary for the digitisation of the Maltese Islands’ maritime heritage.

During the past few years, thousands of artefacts from the Maritime Museum collection were digitised. A Collection Management System was also established, providing for the cataloguing of these collections with the aid of specialised software.

The Malta Maritime Museum

The second phase of the project – comprising the modernisation and design of the remaining spaces within the museum, including the permanent display and interpretation – is now in full swing. While it is being implemented, an impressive, one-of-a-kind exhibition has been set up inside the Maritime Museum to mark the completion of the Norway Grants project.

Malta maritime museum

The exhibition, An Island at the Crossroads opens on Friday 9th February, 2024. It is centres around the concept of Malta’s ideal position in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. A position that distinguishes it from all other islands and that bestows on it a unique identity, making Malta and its people who and what they are, for they were wise enough to use the sea as a bridge and not a barrier.

The artefacts that make up the exhibition are tied to twenty themes, each telling a story related to the sea.

Malta maritime museum

To name but a few, among the exhibits one finds the 18th century bed shared by Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton at the height of their love affair in Naples, providing an excellent highlight of the turbulent two-year period (1798 -1800) during which Malta changed hands three times, from the Order of St John, to the French, to the British; an ex-voto painting depicting the Battle of Lepanto which dates back to the 16th century and is probably the oldest one known on the island; the fascinating diary of Vincenzo Borg (Brared), one of the main insurgent leaders during the French blockade in Malta; the imposing figurehead of Gregorio Mirabitur; the typical toolbox of a mid-20th century Maltese Dockyard worker; and the beautiful leather-bound manuscript penned by the Bunbury sisters in 1872 to document their stop in Malta as part of the Grand Tour.

Malta maritime museum

Several activities will be taking place each month in conjunction with An Island at the Crossroads. They include talks by ex-Dockyard workers, conferences, Taste History events, several activities for school children, and an opportunity to spend a night at the museum.

Admission to An Island at the Crossroads costs €8 for adults, €6 for seniors, students and concessions, and €4 for children. Holders of Heritage Malta’s senior and student passports are admitted free of charge. More information about the exhibition may be accessed here. Information about the exhibition’s opening hours is available here.

This information was provided by Heritage Malta.

7th February 2024

gmm team
Written by
This article was written by a GuideMeMalta team member.

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