An exhibition will be held at the Maritime Museum in Vittoriosa to celebrate the legacy of famous maritime explorer, Jacques Cousteau and his connection with Malta through the Calypso vessel, which after its ferry service between Malta and Gozo, ended up being used by the French explorer in his many adventures.
Jacques Cousteau was a French naval officer, an explorer and conservationist, films producer, a scientist, photographer, author and a researcher of the oceans and aquatic creatures.
Among other feats, he was instrumental in developing the Aqua Lung and contributed widely to enhance the study on maritime life.
Cousteau’s connection with Malta was Calypso, the ship he used in many of his missions. The British navy vessel had been bought by a Maltese entrepreneur and served as a ferry passenger and mail ship for four months between Malta and Gozo. Cousteau bought the ship for his maritime research.
His daughter, Diane Cousteau, said that the sea served as a magnet to Cousteau, whose mission was to make people aware of the concepts of maritime environment.
“We’re going to do an exhibition about the history about Jacques Cousteau’s ship Calypso… and this is a ship that my father found in Malta, and this is where the ship received her name, so it seems like it’s the perfect place to tell the story about the ship,” Diane Cousteau stated.
Calypso vessel became an icon in Cousteau’s voyages, and when in 1996 it sank in an accident at Singapore, it was repaired. Captain Cousteau, who produced over 120 films and published more than 50 books, died a year after the accident at the age of 87.
The French explorer’s connection with Malta will be sealed in an agreement in collaboration between Heritage Malta and Cousteau Foundation, who in 2021 will exhibit at the Maritime Museum a selection of objects used by Captain Cousteau. These will include a wooden side-timber taken from the Calypso vessel, which will be presented to Heritage Malta to form part of the national collection.
Culture Minister, Owen Bonnici, said the exhibition will further strengthen Malta’s reputation in the maritime history. Through the exhibition the museum will discuss themes such as sea pollution and other aspects relating to sea life and the importance of oceans.
“Through the agreement with Jacques Cousteau’s family – everyone remembers Cousteau’s episodes – we can transform this place in a unique building as it will provide an experience which normally one has to travel abroad to enjoy it”, Minister Bonnici added.
The exhibition will be on show in 2021 following the completion of the extension works at the Maritime Museum.