Malta’s first ever Biennale, to be held between mid-March and the end of May, was recently classified by the prestigious British journal, The Guardian, as one of the top ten most sought-after cultural events of 2024, putting it alongside Copenhagen’s repurposed Carlsberg district, and the first Arctic Circle capital of culture (Bodø, Norway). For organisers at Heritage Malta, the pressure is on to create an event worthy of the country’s extraordinary cultural assets.
Overseeing the Biennale is Mario Cutajar whose career as a civil servant stretches back almost 50 years. He took over as President of Heritage Malta in 2022 and said in an article that the rating by ‘The Guardian’ ratchets up the burden of responsibility and pressure on him and his organization to create an event worthy of Malta’s exceptional cultural assets.
Meanwhile, intense work continues to transform magnificent localities into backdrops for Malta’s highly anticipated and first ever Biennale. Among the major renovations is of the Grandmasters’ Palace in Valletta, a jewel in Malta’s crown and the largest project ever undertaken by Heritage Malta. The 40-million-euro rproject is now complete and was inaugurated last week.
Grandmasters’ Palace & The Armoury
Established in the Middle Ages by Knights of the Order of St John and built between between 1571 and 1580 from designs by Maltese Architect Girolamo Cassar, the Grandmasters’ Palace ahs expanded and embellished over the centuries, and home to what is arguable one of the greatest armouries in the world.
The Amoury contains over 7,000 pieces and includes a vast range of firearms, bullets, armour plating, cannon balls, marine equipment and other forms of weaponry.
For some years the Armoury was relocated to another location and the space vacated became Malta’s Parliament. But after the construction of a new Parliament at the entrance of Valletta in 2015, the Armoury was returned to its original hall and has now been totally renovated.
Only parts of the Grandmasters’ Palace are open to the public, namely the State Rooms and the Armoury, both of which are run by Heritage Malta. The Armoury is now equipped with audio-visuals and takes visitors along a 450-year journey into Malta’s history since the Middle Ages.
Heritage Malta, the National Agency for Museums, Conservation and Cultural Heritage, is responsible for more than 50 museums and heritage sites that can be visited, and that spanning from the Stone Age period through the Phoenician and Roman epoch and the arrival of the Grandmasters of St John of Jerusalem all the way up to the French and British occupations.
Besides the oldest free-standing temples in the world, Malta Heritage sites include excavated caves, vaults, walls, bastions and the magnificent capital city of Valletta, with its bastions, forts, Grand Harbour, and narrow streets that bear witness to a long and rich history.
Biennale Malta 2024
Expect many of these locations to host events and artistic works during Malta’s inaugural Biennale this spring, whose overall theme is” “The Mediterranean: White sea, olive groves”.
Drawing over 2500 proposals by artists from 75 countries, Malta Biennale will unfold in locations mainly within Heritage Malta’s historic sites including the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Valletta, the capital city, and Gozo’s Ġgantija Temple
In all there will be 72 artists from an estimated 30 countries participating in the inaugural edition of Malta Biennale, which will run from 11 March to 31 May in 21 locations dotted across the Maltese islands. Expect pavilions from many foreign countries too, including those from Austria, China, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine.
Be Seeing You In: Malta
Good To Know: Biennale will stretch over 2.5 months from 11 March to end 31 May.
WOW! Factor: Biennale Malta is ranked among the Top Ten cultural events of 2024
Tip: Plan ahead
Author bio: Albert Fenech
Read more about Malta’s Biennale at BeSeeingYou