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.
Situated at Vittoriosa, a city with a very long history with maritime, mercantile and military activities, The Malta Maritime Museum boasts a vast array of artefacts which chart Malta’s long maritime history. The island’s location, right in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea made it a hub of maritime activity dating back to prehistoric times.
The museum has managed to amass its’ large collection over a relatively short period thanks to donations from the Maltese general public, foreign individuals, private companies and also foreign maritime museums. The museum’s collection nowadays amounts to over 20,000 artefacts related to Malta’s long maritime history.
Among the highlights showcased in the museum is the largest know Roman anchor in the world. A large collection of cannons from various periods, the largest ship model from the Order of St. John, a Napoleonic figure head of the HMS Hibernia and also a working marine steam engine from the 1950’s.The museum also hosts a large collection of various boats from different historic periods and a large working 18th century ship of the line instruction model.
The museum is set on the Vittoriosa marina in a building that has previously housed the Old Naval Bakery during the time of the British occupation of Malta. It is a stone throw away from the magnificent Fort St. Angelo.