The National Museum of Archaeology displays an exceptional array of artifacts from Malta’s unique prehistory. The collection is housed in the Auberge de Provence on Republic Street, one of the first buildings to be erected in Valletta after the Great Siege in the late 16th century.
The museum is managed by Heritage Malta.
History The Auberge de Provence was opened as the National Museum in 1958 by Ms Agatha Barbara, then the Minister of Education. The museum originally included the archaeological collection on the ground floor and fine arts on the first floor. The first curator was Captain Charles G. Zammit, the son of the eminent Maltese archaeologist Sir Themistocles Zammit.
In 1974, the fine arts collection was moved to the National Museum of Fine Arts, newly established in the Admiralty House building in South Street, Valletta, and the National Museum was renamed the National Museum for Archaeology.
The museum was refurbished and upgraded in 1998. Artifacts were placed in climate-controlled displays so that the exhibition met with current conservation standards.
Building The Auberge de Provence is a baroque building in Republic Street, Valletta, built for the Knights of Malta in 1571. It was probably designed by the Maltese architect Gerolamo Cassar, who directed the building of most important buildings in the early days of Valletta. The building’s façade is imprinted with Mannerist characteristics usually associated with Cassar.
The Grand Salon on the first floor is the most ornate room in the building. The Knights used it for business discussions, and as a refectory and banqueting hall, where they sat at long tables according to seniority.
When Napoleon expelled the Knights from Malta in 1798 the Auberge was leased to the Malta Union Club. Though the lease was to expire in 2002, on 12 August 1955 the Auberge was assigned to house Malta’s National Museum.
Collection The ground floor of the museum exhibits prehistoric artefacts from the Maltese islands, from the Għar Dalam phase (5200 BC), the earliest appearance of settlement on the island, up to the Tarxien phase (2500 BC).