Tuesday, November 25, 2008
National Museum of Archaeology
The National Museum of Archaeology displays an exceptional array of artefacts from Malta’s unique prehistoric periods starting with the first arrival of man in the Ghar Dalam phase (5200 BC) and running up to the Tarxien phase (2500 BC).
The collection is housed in the Auberge de Provence, one of the first and most important buildings to be erected in Malta’s baroque capital city, Valletta, after the Great Siege in the late 16th century.
The construction of the Auberge was probably entrusted to the local architect Gerolamo Cassar (1520-86). Among the more captivating features of the Auberge is the large top floor salon with its richly painted walls and wooden beamed ceiling. Over the centuries, the Auberge has undergone other architectural changes, but it remains one of the best preserved residences of the Knights.
The building served as the main residence for the Provençal knights of the Order of St John. Following the departure of the Order from Malta, the property was administered by the French during their brief occupation of the Islands. It was later on taken over by the British Government and served as military barracks, a hotel, a Union Club, an auction house and, eventually, as a museum.
The building was inaugurated as the National Museum in 1958 when it housed the archaeological as well as the Fine Arts collection, which is now in another palace nearby.