Malta Maritime Museum Birgu

Malta’s Beautiful Maritime Museum Reopens With New Exhibition “An Island at the Crossroads”

Written by Albert Fenech
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It is just not possible to review the Mediterranean Sea at any time in the chronicled events of humanity without mentioning the Maltese Archipelago. This is not a boast or a promotion lure but an indisputable fact since Malta and Gozo, at the very centre of the Middle Sea, were the centre of the world before ventures into Africa, Asia and the Americas.

When the COVID pandemic struck the world, all the museums in Malta were closed, enabling authorities to begin extensive renovations of the Maritime Museum. Housed in the Old Naval Bakery, it tells countless tales of Malta’s maritime exploits over 7000 years, from prehistory to today. After a four year closure, the museum reopened part of its building to the public on 9 February 2024, with a new poignant exhibition called An Island at the Crossroads.

Maritime Museum Curator Liam Gauci said, “Malta is an island at the crossroads. Our history is shaped by those who have passed through our waters – traders, invaders, explorers, and now, migrants”.

 

Malta Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum is home to more than 20,000 artefacts

Malta Maritime Museum

Thousands of artefacts tell stories of Malta’s rich maritime history (Photo courtesy of Heritage Malta)

 

 

Malta: An Island at the Crossroads

In a press conference last week, Heritage Malta announced the opening of An Island at the Crossroads, an exhibition now open in the newly restored sections of the museum, underlining the significant role of Malta and its role as a neutral country member of the UN Security Council, the smallest country ever to be a Member in this highly-important Council.

Featuring a pink bouncy ball as a symbol of resilience and migration in the Mediterranean, the museum  exhibition invites visitors to reflect on the identities and histories of those who have passed through. This benign toy, now suspended within the museum, belongs to a child who was rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta while crossing the Mediterranean Sea and is  reminder of human migration’s contribution to Malta’s history.

For this exhibition, visitors will find a treasure trove of stories through artefacts, paintings, documents, uniforms, ancient seafaring instruments and more that shed light into the past and present realities of life in the Mediterranean—a vast and interconnected sea.

Gauci said, “The story never changes, but its interpretation can change, and even the way you talk about it, and you will see new objects that have been bought from the national collection”.

Malta Maritime Museum

Visit the exhibition at the museum, once home of the Royal Navy Bakery in Birgu (photo by By © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.5)

Maritme Museum Location

The Maritime Museum along the beautiful Birgu waterfront is in a relatively “new” building compared to many in Malta as it is housed in the former Royal Navy Bakery along the Vittoriosa quay, built by the British for their Mediterranean Fleet in the early 1840s. Birgu, also known by its title Città Vittoriosa, is an old fortified city on the south side of the Grand Harbour.

Check the museum website for activities including lectures, conferences, Taste History events, educational programmes for school-aged children, and even the chance to spend a night at the museum

The museum contains more than 20,000 artefacts and is the largest museum on the islands. Plans to establish this were made in 1988 and the museum first opened in July 1992.

Heritage Malta manages dozes of museums and historic sites that are a must-visit

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Be Seeing You In: Malta

Good to Know:  Exhibition admission prices are €8 for adults, €6 for seniors, students, and concessions, and €4 for children

WOW! Factor: The museum examines more than 7,000 years of maritime history in Malta and the Mediterranean

Tips: The Museum itself is temporarily closed but the exhibition ‘An Island at the Crossroads’ will be open everyday (except Tuesday).

Author bio: Albert Fenech

salina46af@gmail.com

 

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Albert Fenech
Born in 1946, Albert Fenech’s family took up UK residence in 1954 where he spent his boyhood and youth before temporarily returning to Malta between 1957 and 1959 and then coming back to Malta permanently in 1965. He spent eight years as a full-time journalist with “The Times of Malta” before taking up a career in HR Management and Administration with a leading construction company building the Benghazi Hospital in Libya, later with Malta Insurance Brokers, Malta’s leading insurance Broker and finally STMicroelectronics Malta, employing 3,000 employees and Malta’s leading industrial manufacturer. Throughout he actively pursued freelance journalism and broadcasting for various media outlets covering social issues, current affairs, sports and travel. He was Publications Editor for the Malta Football Association for 25 years and has written for a number of publications both in Malta and overseas, as well as publishing two e-books.

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