Saturday 16 February 2019

Restoration of the Wignacourt Museum

The  Wignacourt  Collegiate Museum in Rabat Malta has been reopened after a thorough refurbishment of the whole building, thanks to a joint sponsorship of  €70,000  by  Vodafone  Malta  Foundation  and  HSBC  Malta  Foundation.

Refurbishment works  began  in  2007 and consisted of several processes to bring the Museum back to the glory it enjoyed in the old days.

“Inaugurated  by  Grand  Master Aloph de Wignacourt in the beginning of the 17th   century,  the  Museum  was  in  need  of  an  upgrade,” said Fr John Azzopardi, Curator of the Musuem. “The Foundations’ substantial sponsorship has been an extremely valid contribution towards the very big expense that was spent to bring the Museum back to its former glory.”

Refurbishment  works included the delicate restoration of six almost rotten wooden roofs, the restoration of the cupola of the Museum’s old Chapel, the replacement   of  a  large  wooden  beam in the main corridor upstairs, the

placing of  several  wooden beams supporting the roofs for the new compact shelving  of the archives and library, the consolidation of a large arch in the  lower arched floor near the internal courtyard, the replacement of six very  large  windows in the main corridor, covering the very extensive roof of  the building with membrane and numerous other minor improvements to the building.

“As   Vodafone   Malta   Foundation,  we  feel  that  it  is  part  of  our responsibility  to  support  our  cultural  heritage,”  said  Gemma  Mifsud Bonnici, Chairperson of Vodafone Malta Foundation. “It is only through such initiatives that such heritage may be protected for future generations.”

“The Museum’s  premises  have  been thoroughly refurbished to an exemplary standard.  The  HSBC  Malta  Foundation  was  behind  this large project in appreciation  of  the  building’s  great historical significance and unique

collection of invaluable artefacts,” said Mark Watkinson, HSBC Malta Chief Executive  Officer.  “We encourage  all  to visit and enjoy the historical wealth so well preserved and displayed within its walls.”

The Wignacourt  Museum  is located just outside the walls of the OldRomanCity  of Malta and materially linked to St Paul’s Grotto, Malta’s cradle of Christianity.  It played an important role throughout Malta’s history. Upon its inauguration, it served as a residence to the Chaplains of the Knights of Malta.  Furthermore,  a  complex of World War II shelters with two main corridors  and  fifty  rooms  are  found  at  the  underground level of the building  while  on ground floor there is an oven that used to provide more than  2,000  loaves  per day for the population of Rabat during World War II.

The Museum has various valuable collections, including 17th to 19th century Spanish,  Italian  and  Maltese  silver, a unique wooden altar used for the celebration  of  Mass  on the galleys of the Order of the Knights of Malta, old  relics  and  reliquaries,  sculptures  in  wood,  alabaster and bronze including  a  medallion by Alessandro Algardi, maps, coins, prints and rare books  among  which  is  King  Henry  VIII’s ‘Septem Sacramants” written to confute  Martin  Luther. An impressive picture gallery with works by Mattia Preti, Antoine  Favray,  Francesco  Zahra  and  other  Maltese  as well as European Artists is found on the main floor.


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