Valletta has enjoyed its year in the sun as European Capital of Culture in 2018. The final flourish of refreshed heritage in the Maltese capital is the opening of MUZA: the new National Museum of Art.
The collection occupies the Auberge d’Italie, a 16th century mansion built to house Italian-speaking knights of the Order of St John.
After a varied subsequent career, including roles as a courthouse and post office, the structure has been transformed into a sequence of galleries revealing Maltese culture through the ages.
The museum is close to the Renzo Piano-designed City Gate and parliament building. Valletta is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and maps telling the story of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565 have made it to the Unesco Memory of the World Register.
Exhibits include Maltese and Italian paintings and sculptures. The venue is impressive, with a courtyard filled by a 17th century arch.
The curator, Dr Alexander Debono, told The Independent: “MUSA is all about getting inspired. We aspire to bridge the idea of the nation with the needs of our community.
“Hopefully MUZA will be one of those projects to carry the legacy [of the European Capital of Culture] forward.”
Four-fifths of the €10m cost of the project came from the European Regional Development Fund. One aim is to increase Valletta’s appeal as a Mediterranean art city. MUZA is intended to be “green-powered”, generating its energy requirements through renewable sources.
This winter there are flights to Malta from 16 UK airports on Air Malta, British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair. Simon paid £50 return on easyJet from Gatwick.
MUZA is in the Auberge d’Italie, Merchants Street, Valletta. It opens 9am-5pm daily.
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