The National Museum of Archaeology, managed by Heritage Malta, is housed in the Auberge de Provence and holds exceptional artefacts from the prehistoric and early Phoenician periods. The Auberge is one of the most important buildings that were built in Malta’s capital following the great siege of 1565. An example of early Maltese Baroque architecture, the Auberge was built in 1571 and followed a plan by Maltese architect Ġlormu Cassar. Several architectural changes were carried out over the centuries; nonetheless, the Auberge de Provence remains one of the best preserved residences of the Knights of St John. One of its most beautiful rooms is the Grand Salon in the upper floor, with richly painted walls and a wooden beamed ceiling.
The building was the main residence of Provençal knights of the Order of St John. Following the knights’ departure, the building was first administered by the French during their brief occupation of the islands and was later taken over by the British government. Before being inaugurated as The National Museum in 1958, it served as a military barracks, a hotel, Union Club and an auction house. Initially, the museum held both the archaeology and fine arts collections. Eventually, the fine arts section was moved elsewhere and the museum became the National Museum of Archaeology in 1974.