The National Museum of Archaeology – home of an exceptional array of artifacts
The National Museum of Archaeology is one of the main points of attraction in Malta. It is located in, in Republic Street, Valletta in Auberge de Provence - one of the first buildings to be erected in Valletta after the Great Siege in the late 16th century. The museum displays an extraordinary collection of artifacts from Malta’s unique prehistoric periods. On display at this museum are the earliest utensils used by the prehistoric people to make easy their daily tasks. There also representations of animal life and also human figures, both elements showing the great artistic skills of the dwellers of the island at the time also giving us an insight on their daily lives. The museum is a great spot to come with your friends and family, to watch together the incredible items and unique exhibitions. Being located in such an old building, it gives the museum a unique charm.
The history of the building
The Auberge de Provence was built in the late 16th century. It was a baroque building built for the Knights of Malta in 1571. The building was designed by the Maltese architect Gerolamo Cassar, who directed the building of most important buildings in the early days of Valletta. The building’s façade is imprinted with Mannerist characteristics usually associated with Cassar. The Grand Salon on the first floor is the most ornate room in the building. The Knights used it for business discussions, and as a refectory and banqueting hall, where they sat at long tables according to seniority. When Napoleon expelled the Knights from Malta in 1798 the Auberge was leased to the Malta Union Club.
In 1958 the Auberge de Provence was opened the National Museum. The museum was opened by Ms Agatha Barbara. The museum originally included the archaeological collection on the ground floor and fine arts on the first floor. In 1974, the fine arts collection was moved to the National Museum of Fine Arts newly established in the Admiralty House building in South Street, Valletta, and the National Museum was renamed the National Museum for Archaeology.
The main Collections
The National Museum of Archaeology holds its collection on two floors. The ground floor of the museum contain prehistoric artifacts from the Maltese islands, from the Għar Dalam phase, the earliest appearance of settlement on the island, up to the Tarxien phase. There are two main rooms: Early Neolithic Period Room (5200–3800 BC) – its exhibitions feature a reconstruction of the rock-cut tombs that were a characteristic of the early Neolithic period in Malta and Temple Period Room (3800–2500 BC) - show examples of architecture, human representation and other items that date from the Mġarr, Ġgantija, Saflieni and Tarxien phases of Maltese prehistory. Here you can see numerous corpulent statues representing human bodies unearthed from temple excavations, along with phallic representations. There are statues like Mother Goddesses, Fat Ladies, Deities and Priests.
The main hall is devoted to temple carvings and the collection continues with representations of animals, temple models, and the remarkable human figures. Of particular note are the exquisite figures of the ‘Sleeping Lady’ from the Hypogeum, and the ‘Venus’ of Hagar Qim.
The Grand Salon on the second floor occasionally holds temporary exhibitions of particular national interest. Here you can see the Silent Warriors - features artifacts from the terracotta army of the first emperor of China, Shi Huangdi, Carravagio L’Immagine Del Divino - exhibites original masterpieces of the Italian artist Michelangio Merisi da Caravaggio, In Quest of Beauty - an exhibition of works by the Bohemian Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.
The museum is a really amazing place to come with friends and family. Here you will be able to learn about the prehistory of the Maltese Islands and is the catalyst to the other archaeological sites in Malta. Don’t hesitate to visit its unique historical exhibits.
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Malta has a really small land area, this making it one of the worlds smallest and most densely populated countries.
Only the three largest islands of its island group are inhabited.
It is one of the most spectacular countries in Europe, and even if it’s small, Malta has a lot of attractions and incredible areas that will for sure take your breath away.
Malta is famous for its cultural attractions, history, native flora, unique churches and temples, landmarks and architecture, modern buildings and impressive gardens.
Malta provides a variety of attractions to its visitors due to its diverse history and its natural Mediterranean beauty.