‘The Guardian’ has pronounced the new National Contemporary Arts Museum MUŻA as one of 13 new European museums that must be visited. ‘The Architecture Digest’ has said it is one of 15 museums of significant value that have opened this year.
Inaugurated eight days ago, MUŻA will open its doors to the general public next month with an Open Day to be held on 15th December.
From the crowds in Valletta’s Merchants Street, as soon as one enters the Auberge d’Italie, now the home of MUŻA, one is met by a band of different people – that is portraits by renowned artists towards the end of the 19th Century and during the last Century. Some of them are self-portraits and are from every strata of society.
This section represents a part dedicated to artists and two halls are dedicated to great artists. One contains the works of Victor Pasmore, a British artist renowned for his abstract works and the other contains the priceless works of Maltese sculptor Antonio Sciortino, including his model of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that was bound for London. As a result of the many drawings that Sciortino did for this monument, MUŻA has a virtual video as to what this grand monument would have looked like.
Exhibited there is also the original monument of ‘Les Gavroches’ as well as various other Sciortino sculptures that he first did in plaster and then produced the bronze version. The information about the exhibits is basic, the scope being not to inundate visitors with too much detail. Short videos have also been produced to enable the public to appreciate the work process carried out on certain works.
On the MUŻA upper floor there is space dedicated to the teaching of art to enable the visitor to experience the feeling of entering an arts class. There is a model in the centre surrounded by easels and sketches of the model from different angles.
Curator Bernadine Scicluna said the class has to reflect certain standards, such as the curriculum that was used in the school of arts that was established at the beginning of the 19th Century. At the time such a school was an innovation because before that, artists had their own workshop and new aspiring artists would be taken in as apprentices or assistants and receive instructions under the direction of an established artist.
For many years the first ground that visitors trod when they arrived in Malta, that is, the Grand Harbour area and Valletta, is reflected in a lot of artistic works. The capital city was reflected on the idea of a European city because the Knights Order of St John introduced many European ideas to Malta.
Naturally, there are sections dedicated to the Mediterranean and the era of the British Empire. MUŻA also offers space for conferences and a yard that will be used for social purposes during the day and in the evenings.
As the national art collection held by Heritage Malta is vast, the museum’s exhibits will be changed regularly to enable the public to view as extensive a spread of arts heritage as possible.