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Places to Go, Things to Do: National Museum of Archaeology

Paul Grech Thursday, November 1, 2012 ,

What is It?
As the name suggests the National Museum of Archaeology houses a large number of archaeological artefacts which date back to our island's Neolithic period but not only.

Why Go There?
Unfortunately, for a lot of people history is something learned (or suffered) through books during long hours at school.  Even worse, it is something that is learned purely because it is an academic requirement.

Yet that is not how it should be.  History teaches us about ourselves and unless we know of our past we cannot really say to know ourselves.  Above all, history doesn't have to be boring and with a bit of effort it can be brought to life. Visits to museums, like the National Museum of Archaeology, helps teach the young (and not so young)  the way of life of people from past societies.

What is There To See?
On display at this museum are the earliest tools used by the prehistoric and early historic people to facilitate their daily tasks; representations of animal life and also human figures, both elements showing the great artistic skills of the dwellers of the island at the time also giving an insight on their daily lives.  The real kind of history, if you want, as opposed to the two dimensional one seen on books.

However, the real stars of the show include the ‘Sleeping Lady’ from the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, the ‘Venus of Malta’ from Hagar Qim, the bronze daggers from the Tarxien Cemetery, the sarcophagus from Ghar Barka and the Horus and Anubis pendant from Ghajn Klieb

When to go there...
The museum is open every day from eight in the morning till seven in the evening with the last admission being at quarter past six. It is worth subscribing to Heritage Malta's mailing list to be informed of any special events being held and which might be of interest.  One such instance will be on the first of November when an event called Trash Archaeology is being organised. Here, those taking part will be shown how to distinguish important archaeological facts from what seems to be mere trash.

If there is a budding archaeologist in your family, make a note of the Excavate event being held on the 3rd of January.  Those children who take part will be shown how to excavate on a miniature archaeological site going through the whole process from taking photos to drawing plans to extracting artefacts and remains up to labelinglabelling and packing, all while taking careful and meticulous measures.

Where Is It?
The National Museum of Archaeology is housed in the Auberge de Proven├že, in Republic Street, Valletta.  Meaning that, if you go to Valletta, you cannot really miss it.

How Much...
Adult tickets costs €5 but there are concessions for senior citizens (those aged over sixty) who can enter the museum for €3.50.  Children tickets cost €2.50 but this applies for those who are aged over five years with younger children being able to enter for free.

And another thing...
Heritage Malta organises a number of open days and special events.  Events for the coming months include an exhibition entitled "A journey through Peasant Costumes" to be held at the Inquisitor's Palace along with a number of events scheduled to be held in Gozo such as the "Model Making of a Traditional Maltese Boat – Luzzu".  The best way to keep informed on what is being planned by Heritage Malta is by liking its Facebook Page.

This article appeared on the Autumn 2012 issue of Growing Up in Malta.

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Copyright 2010 Paul Grech: Writer