The Top 10 Museums to Visit in Malta
Throughout Malta’s rich past, which spans almost 7,000 years, the island has witnessed some of the world’s most important historical events from the Neolithic era through to the Second World War.
With so much history, culture and unique tradition packed into the tiny island, it’s not surprising then that it is full of museums displaying artefacts from many a bygone age.
Here are 10 of the best museums to include in your next holiday on the island, to experience the essence of Malta through the ages.
1. National War Museum
Fort St Elmo, Valletta
As the name would suggest, the National War Museum relates to nearly every war fought by Malta throughout its history. The museum shows items chronologically from prehistoric times and the early phases of the Bronze Age, right through to Malta’s many colonisations, and the Great Siege of 1565. It also includes two halls dedicated to Malta’s role in both the first and second world wars. Among the many exhibits is the original George Cross medal, which was awarded to the Maltese people for their courage in WW2 and is represented on the national flag.
2. National Museum of Archaeology
Auberge De Provence, Republic Street, Valletta
Housed within the beautiful original home of the Knights of the Order of St John, the National Museum of Archaeology displays local prehistoric artefacts dating as far back as 5000 BC and the Neolithic period. Displays include early tools used by prehistoric people and their artistic animal and human figurines, as well as Malta’s famous ‘Sleeping Lady’ from Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, the ‘Venus of Malta’ from Hagar Qim, some bronze age daggers from Tarxien Temples, and a Horus and Anubis pendant from the island’s Phoenician period.
3. Malta Classic Car Museum
Triq it-Turisti, Qawra
Classic car enthusiasts will love this collection of fine cars through the decades. Exhibits include a number of vintage automobiles and motorbikes including a 1950s Chevrolet Corvette, a 1956 Ford Thunderbird and a 1957 Austin Healey 100/6, as well as an in-house cinema showing highlights from the motoring world, and a variety of vintage memorabilia.
4. Malta Maritime Museum
Vittoriosa Waterfront, Birgu
Malta’s long maritime history is displayed in this picturesque museum housed in the once naval bakery on Birgu’s waterfront. With plentiful exhibits showing models of boats, engines, Roman anchors and French sabres, the museum is home to thousands of sea-related items from the many different periods throughout Malta’s colourful history.
5. Malta Aviation Museum
Ta’ Qali Crafts Village, Attard
Focusing on the key role aircraft played during the Second World War in defending Malta against the near-constant attacks, this museum is a must not just for aviation enthusiasts but also for those fascinated by Malta’s wartime history. Described as a living museum, the three hangars are home to a variety of aircraft including a restored WW2 Hawker Hurricane and a Supermarine Spitfire MkIV EN199.
6. MUŻA Art Museum (formerly National Museum of Fine Arts)
Auberge d’Italie, Merchants Street, Valletta
Once the National Museum of Fine Arts, this museum was updated as a flagship project for Valletta’s year as European Capital City of Culture in 2018. Now named MUŻA, it is the first national-community art museum of its kind, where most of the paintings collection from the original Museum of Fine Arts are still displayed, alongside local art and culture exhibitions. MUŻA also aims to be green-powered, generating all its energy through renewable sources.
7. Domvs Romana
Wesgħa tal-Mużew, Rabat
Just outside Mdina is this museum that is built around the remains of a rich, aristocratic Roman townhouse (or ‘domvs’). Accidentally discovered in 1881, the original Roman building dates back to around the first century BC and offers a fascinating glimpse into the life and habits of a Roman aristocrat at that time. The museum itself displays a unique collection of Roman artefacts, marble statues, and even well-preserved, intricate mosaics.
8. National Museum of Natural History
Vilhena Palace, St Publius Square, Mdina
An 18th century palace next to the entrance gate of Mdina has been the picturesque home of the National Museum of Natural History since 1973. Malta’s local wildlife are given special focus in this museum, as well as Maltese geology and palaeontology, and there’s even the largest squid taken from Maltese waters on display. Lewis Mizzi’s impressive collection of rocks and minerals are also given pride of place.
9. The Palace Armoury
St George’s Square, Valletta
Still housed in its original location in the armoury connected to the magnificent Grandmaster’s Palace is this, the world’s largest collection of historical weapons and armour. With exhibits that include original suits of armour as worn by the Knights of the Order of St John, and that worn by their opponents in the Great Siege of 1565 the Ottoman Turks, the collection offers a peek into some of Malta’s greatest battles from centuries past.
10. The Inquisitor’s Palace
Main Gate Street, Vittoriosa
In the heart of Birgu is one of the few surviving palaces of its kind in all of Europe and South America, and the only one open to the public. For more than 500 years, the palace survived thanks to hosting a number of high-ranking officials who all wanted to add their personal touch to the building – meaning that today, the palace museum is packed with rare artefacts from most of the key periods of its history. The interior of the palace also includes historic reconstructions of the domestic kitchen area, the living quarters, and the Holy Office Tribunal, prison complex and torture chamber.