Malta means many different things to many different people, but it seems to be a collective understanding that above all it is a beautiful place of great historical and cultural value. With all the preparations for 2018, in which Valletta will be the cultural capital of Europe, it’s hard to forget this. Let’s take a step back, though. It’s not 2018 just yet – it’s the very beginning of 2017, so let’s have a look at a few of those pockets of wonder and beauty that have been around for years and years!
Those pockets of wonder are often best captured through the myriad Maltese museums that you can visit around the islands. We’ve already done a segment on Maltese museums, highlighting some of the top locations to get your history fix. However, the talent for curation we have here spreads much wider, so here are a few more Malta Museums for your delectation!
National Museum of Fine Arts
Museums aren’t just about history, and yet everything within them is inherently historical (but that’s a discussion best kept for University or Saturdays at 4 a.m.). Perhaps that’s why we have such a deep-rooted love for the National Museum of Fine Arts – it’s such a stunning display of some of finest artworks in Malta, yet those artworks are inevitably a celebration of the historical period they were created in.
In fact, most of the artworks in this Valletta museum were created during the time of the Order of St John. Here you can find works by Valentin de Boulone, Jusepe Ribera, Guido Reni, Albert Bierstadt, Joseph Mallord Wlliam Turner, and others. The centrepiece of the museum perhaps comes in the form of Mattia Preti’s works, and indeed you won’t find a larger collection of his paintings anywhere else in the world.
The building in which the museum is located is also a testament to history in itself, being one of the oldest buildings erected during the time of the Knights and serving multiple purposes during its existence, from a residence to the Order to becoming the Admiralty House for the British during the 1820s.
Please note: The National Museum of Fine Arts closed its doors on the 2nd October 2016, and will be reopening in 2018 as MUZA, the new national community art museum at the Auberge d’Italie in Valletta. More information can be obtained here: http://heritagemalta.org/national-museum-of-fine-arts-closing-its-doors-at-the-admiralty-house-on-2nd-october/
The Inquisitor’s Palace
Another historical-building-turned-museum, the Inquisitor’s Palace is a must visit because there are virtually no such palaces left around the world. Many of these got wiped out during the French Revolution. The Maltese Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu, thankfully, is still intact.
Sure, the implications of inquisition might be morbid, but they are fascinating nonetheless, and considering that it has been the residence of all inquisitors from 1574 till the mid-18th century, much work was done to turn the palace into a gorgeous mansion.
Though not one of the larger museums in Malta, the Domvs Romana in Rabat certainly provides the most fascinating and rewarding insight into our ties with Roman culture and art.
The Domvs Romana is most highly associated with its mosaic displays, and although these are stunning it also houses various other artefacts. More than just a display of Roman art, the museum provides insight into the lifestyles and roles inhabited by Roman families in Malta.
The museum itself has quite a bit of history, as it too is the aftermath of an ancient aristocratic Roman townhouse found in 1881. Just a year later, the townhouse became a public museum. The museum has been renovated a number of times to preserve its structure and the art within.
Malta Aviation Museum
The Malta Aviation Museum is located in Ta Qali, which is the former airfield of the Royal Air Force in Malta, once again making it the most apt place to host its exhibits. The museum is spread over three separate hangars, each of them containing a number of impressive planes used throughout Malta’s aviation history, but of course mostly covering those used in Second World War and Post-war periods.
Gozo Museum of Archaeology
In our last article, we spoke about the National Museum of Archeology in Malta, but to witness the archaeological wonders of Gozo, you’ll have to visit the museum that is set behind the original gateway to the Citadel. Once a 17th century townhouse, the Gozo Museum of Archeology now hosts examples of archaeology in three main divisions: prehistory, the classical period, and Medieval/Early Modern periods.