A number of restoration projects have been carried out in recent years at the Old University in Valletta, with the more recent including works in the historic corridors, as well as in the University’s Aula Magna and the collection of plaster casts.
The Old University in Valletta opened its doors in 1769 when Grandmaster Pinto kicked out the Jesuits and got together various institutions including the schools of Medicine and Anatomy, Mathematics and Navigation, and established the University, which to this day still recalls Pinto as the founder in its emblem.
The collection of plaster casts -Ġibsoteka – was inaugurated recently in the University’s historic seat, which houses the precious collection of casts held by the University since the end of the 19th century.
Professor Keith Sciberras, Head of the Department of Arts at the University of Malta, explained that the prestige of the collection is attributed to its esthetic value, and to the manner in which the plaster statues had been used as teaching tools in classes for the academic teaching of a number of subjects.
“They were used for didactics to teach students to draw them, as well as in the classics classes, as in Italian literature; in the philosophy classes certain texts were used to introduce these figures.”
Professor Sciberras added that the works in the collection represent important figures, which Italian sculptor Michele Gherardi had formed, based on the originals in marble in Rome.
“Very important figures like the Apollo del Belvedere, Discopolus and the Borghese Gladiator, and all the works of the important Italian cast maker Michele Gherardi.”
Even the main hall at the university’s Aula Magna was restored precisely for the 250th anniversary of the celebrations of the setting up of the University.
This hall had been shut down for a restoration and embellishment project carried out by the University of Malta’s works directorate.