Malta Maritime Museum to expand its museum capacity by more than 500m2 and extend digital outreach through a Euros 2,000,000 project

Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici and Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia have announced a new project by Heritage Malta, which will see the Malta Maritime Museum in Birgu increasing considerably the total area of its public museum and exhibition space, together with an extended outreach to digital visitors with the digitisation of 2,600 objects from its collection.

Minister Bonnici stated that this project is to contribute to the reduction of economic and social disparities through the enhancement and upgrading of cultural heritage as an asset.

Heritage and preservation have increasingly become more essential through time and during the past couple of years, and the culture sector has been transformed into a ‘value-adding’ industry. Through this project, the total area of visitors’ facilities, museum and exhibition space at the Malta Maritime Museum will increase to 1,629m2, from the current 1,086m2. Thanks to restorations and upgrades, the project will enhance the attraction, and therefore touristic product offered in the area, whilst providing the community with spaces which have been inaccessible, for a better cultural experience, Minister Bonnici continued.

This Euros 2,015,529 project is partly financed by the peoples of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants.

The Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia said that by means of the signing of the Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) in February 2017, Malta benefitted from Euros 8 million (Euros 4 million under the EEA Financial Mechanism, Euros 3.3 million under the Norwegian Financial Mechanism and Euros 0.7 million under the Civil Society Fund), that is an increase of Euros 3 million from the previous programming period 2009-14.

Farrugia said that the success of the implementation of this project will ensure Malta’s contribution of these funds towards the enhancement of priority sectors like social inclusion, youth employment and poverty reduction. Children, youths at risk and vulnerable groups in Birgu shall be the main target groups during this programming period and projects like this shall aim at boosting systematic change.

It is interesting to note that cultural heritage always featured as a priority under all programming periods for EEA and Norway financial mechanisms.

In the early 1990s, major works were undertaken to restore and adapt part of the Old Naval Bakery to serve as the Malta Maritime Museum. To date, only a relatively small percentage of the entire building is serving as a museum.

In recent years, Heritage Malta has commenced an ambitious restoration programme to restore the external fabric of this historical structure. The agency has completed the restoration of one turret, the front and side facades, and is in the process of finalising the restoration of the back facade, and all the apertures through national funds.

The new project will consolidate the building through structural interventions, which will recreate the spatial environment that was originally designed by renowned British architect William Scamp back in the 1840s, while also introducing new internal areas and spaces.

Two of the major interventions will involve the removal of the remains of one of the silos built during the later British era and the reconstruction of the original arches/vaulted spaces, along with the repair and restoration of the uppermost ceiling of the same wing of the building.

The elimination of the silo will provide a generous capacity to create an accessible and adequate foyer area at ground floor level, which will include a reception, a museum shop and temporary exhibition spaces. The introduction of new spaces at first and second floor levels will facilitate the increase of artefacts on permanent display and enhance the public’s interaction with the exhibits. A larger exhibition space is going to be provided in a silo, which will be retained and split into four levels.

The digitization component of the project aims to create a fully fletched e-accessible database of rich information, knowledge, and various forms of digital media of Malta’s cultural heritage assets, focusing on the Maritime Museum collection of models and navigation instruments.

This capital project, which will be finalised in 2022 is envisaged to lead to an annual increase of another 5,000 visitors and to a wider outreach towards the digital audience of the Malta Maritime Museum.

Source: Government of Malta