Current Affairs
Painting concealed under layers of paint uncovered at Cathedral Museum

The Baroque building next to the Imdina Cathedral, which had been used as a Seminary, has served as the Cathedral Museum for 50 years. For this occasion the Imdina Metropolitan Chapter has inaugurated the 50th anniversary celebrations with the unveiling of a painting on the ceiling of the Museum chapel.

Enriched with exhibits which date back to the 15th century, the Imdina Cathedral Museum is an architectural jewel of the Baroque era, and is also one of the leading museums in Malta housing various collections.

The restoration carried out in recent years has brought out the architectural details of this Palace which had been constructed in 1733, and which served as the Archbishop’s seminary for some 200 years.

The Museum Curator, Monsignor Edgar Vella, explained that before it started being used as a Museum in 1969, the Palace was also used as school during the war, and for some time was in use by the British Government as a residence.

Monsignor Vella added that some 150,000 visitors visit the museum every year, adding that on its 50th anniversary the Museum is not just a showcase of collections.

“Our concept of a museum is not as a depository for the housing of residues and relics. The Museum is a living building, and we would like visitors, children and students to live the experience. I can reveal that this will soon be the first autistic-friendly Museum, as part of a programme we will soon be initiating.”

Besides housing the largest collection outside Germany of Albrecht Durer incisions and a sizeable collection of silverware, mostly ecclesiastical, the Museum includes a chapel with a painted ceiling, which gives the impression that the chapel’s cupola complements the marble altar. The painting had been concealed under two layers of paint for nearly one hundred years, until it saw the light of day again after restoration works.

Monsignor Vella added that “today we can describe the chapel as a minor jewel which has been restored to the original splendour and dignity, from the marble flooring to the top of the cupola, that it had enjoyed in the middle of the 18th century.”

Research by the Cathedral’s assistant archivist Mario Gauci shows that the artistic work in the chapel was carried out by a Maltese artist.

“A priest about whom we had no knowledge, Don Mikelangelo Abela from Valletta, who had gone to study in Rome and had then painted the whole of this chapel, including the cupola and decorations,” Mr Gauci explained.

In the course of this year the Museum will be organising various activities to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

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