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 way it was 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 needed 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 Old Roman City 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 daily 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 main floor.