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The Malta Maritime Museum

Let us do this good task for the glory of our country, a task which I am afraid shall be my last one for I shall be facing a greater risk than anyone else, since everybody was afraid to do what I am going to do. But I am not faint of heart and shall give my life quite happily for the success of our plans.’

These most patriotic of words written by a scientist and priest from Zebbug suggest a fire and a zeal for a young nation. Words written in silence, under flickering candle light. In these letters written in iron ball ink, hidden words were also penned in invisible ink undetectable to the naked eye. It was a way to protect the sender who was committing high treason for the greater good of nascent nation. The prophetic words of impending death were a foretelling of what was to be the bullet-ridden corpse of Dun Mikiel Xerri. His country, a rock at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, had been at the heart of the machinations of a Mediterranean French Republican Empire. Xerri decided to stand up to that plan. He was not faint-hearted, and stood for a Malta free from tyranny, determined to choose her own destiny, even if it were to lead to his death. He was not the first to do so and surely not the last. So, it came to pass that one of Malta’s first patriots penned his letters during the darkest of hours for the young nation, his most important words were written in between, only to be read by those who truly wanted to join in a journey of nationhood.

The Malta Maritime Museum, just like the reader of Dun Mikiel Xerri’s letter, has endeavoured to read in between the lines. Just like those letters of 1799, the most important words are found in between the lines. This is the narrative that has been spearheaded at the museum since 1992 attempting to peel away myths, misconceptions and perceptions. Striving to search for a maritime identity, lost in the greater narratives of the Malta story. The founding curator of the museum and managed to grapple with the insurmountable task of building a collection from scratch. His successors consolidated this narrative by expanding the collection and establishing a narrative of a truly modern museum concept. The collection, by then numbering in its thousands, was therefore making it easier to establish themes and perspectives of a young nation finding its collective identity.

It came to pass that with superb foundations the next chapter was started: consolidating the collection through a collections policy to guide the curatorial team and inspire potential donors. This was mirrored by a feverish commitment by Heritage Malta to invest in the acquisition of artefacts of national importance that elevate the collection. It is all too clear that in recent years the quality of acquisitions has exceeded any other period, this itself injected a sense in the local community to donate greater treasures to the collection.

The Malta Maritime Museum has locked its sights on its evolving mission of propagating a national identity upheld by a precious national collection, merging what can only be the unique narratives of an island people. We need to start thinking about elevating this National museum onto the world stage. A new display was needed and this was only possible through a multi-disciplinary team intent on building upon the blocks mentioned above, whilst keeping the wider perspective of the Malta Maritime Museum as a propagator of a Maltese identities. The exhibition, as explained in these pages is the outcome of the vision and ideas of curators past and present.

A story of an island at the crossroads, built upon the material culture left to us by all those who came before us. These are the stories of our people, it is our job and our pleasure to keep them alive. The team at the museum have promised to keep reading between the lines to uncover the identities of our country.

This is an island nation, its destiny dictated by the waves that have battered its shores for centuries. Its people have ventured beyond these shores to the ends of the world, turning their biggest natural barrier into a bridge. A bridge that has brought them into contact with the whole world. A world that has delivered to the island war, famine, riches and prosperity, creating in the process ‘an island at the crossroads.’

VISITING THE MUSEUM Embark on a captivating journey through time at the Malta Maritime Museum’s groundbreaking exhibition, “An Island at the Crossroads.” Celebrating the completion of the first phase of the Malta Maritime Museum project

Meet the Curator

The Malta Maritime Museum has locked its sights on its evolving mission of propagating a national identity upheld by a precious national collection, merging what can only be the unique narratives of an island people.

The Restoration Project

The first phase of major restoration and civil works carried out at the ex-Naval Bakery was indeed a critical achievement for Heritage Malta’s project for a new Maritime Museum. Co-Financed through the EEA Norway Grants