National Museum of Archaeology

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The Museum of Archaeology is in the 16thC Auberge de Provence on Triq ir-Republika.

Entry is €5 but free with a Malta Heritage pass.

This is a splendid building with a painted ceiling in the entrance hall. This was originally painted by same artist who had painted the Painted Gallery in the Grand Master’s Palace, but has been repainted several times.

There is a good shop off the entrance hall selling a range of books and also small gifts including statues of the fat ladies, a popular memento of Malta.

The ground floor has exhibits from the temples, information on prehistory and exhibits taken from excavations. This includes carved stones from Tarxien and Hagar Qim, fat lady statues, tools, pottery…

There are also photographs of the inside of the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, As photographs are not allowed in the Hypogeum, photographs of these are your only chance of a record of a visit.

Displays have small labels in English. Information boards are in both Maltese and English.

Upstairs is information on the Bronze age with examples of pottery, tools and small bronze figurines. There is a model of the cart tracks including junctions. There is a short video of Dr Donald Trump (who excavated many of the sites and was Curator of Archaeology) talking about them, their formation and trying to explain why in one place one rut is about 50cm below the other…

There was special exhibition showing the collection of Spanish and Moorish metalwork from the 18/19thC. We weren’t particularly interested in this but it did give us chance to see into the Grand Salon, which was used by the Knights to negotiate business and as a banqueting Hall. It is beautifully carved with a painted wooden ceiling and large decorative painted panels on the walls. Unfortunately we could only just see the tops above the displays. This is only open when there is a special exhibition – a pity as it looks a really interesting room.

This is a fascinating museum with just enough information to whet the appetite but not go into overload. It complements visits to the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum and the temples.

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