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PR196

PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR JUSTICE, CULTURE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIAT FOR EUROPEAN FUNDS AND SOCIAL DIALOGUE: Restoration works at the Grand Master’s Palace moving ahead

 
Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici and Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia visited the Grand Master’s Palace, which is currently undergoing a regeneration project.  
 
“This €10 million project, most of which coming from the European Regional Development Fund, aims to turn the pages of time in order to regain the prestige and grandeur of this fine historical building so that it could offer an exceptional experience for visitors. The extensive restoration is planned to reflect the importance of this historic building as well as its originality. Extensive areas which were never accessible will now also be available for public viewing – this all falls into line with our holistic approach to make culture and the arts more accessible, successfully fulfilling our cultural strategy,” stated Minister Owen Bonnici during his visit.
 
Till now, restoration works have commenced on the ceiling of the Palace corridors and on a set of 19 lunettes (semi-circular paintings) which were in a very poor state of conservation. Six of them have been fully restored. Although the artists of these lunettes are unknown, it is estimated they were painted by three different artists in various periods. 
 
The main infrastructural works tender has also been published and should be awarded by the end of the year. 
 
Parliamentary Secretary Aaron Farrugia said that an emphasis on culture is the key to preserving Maltese and European identity and history. “The Maltese people and civil society are calling for identity and history to be made a priority. This is being done, with European funds, through major projects in the capital but also in towns and villages in Malta and Gozo,” Farrugia said. 

The Parliamentary Secretary explained that the economic success of the past years is allowing culture and environment to be prioritised more, as they have a significant effect on quality of life. “With the use of European funds, we are going beyond major cultural projects, and are investing in the restoration of churches and other assets, thereby strengthening the both the community and the identity aspect in our country,” he said. 

The part requiring most works are the offices which are currently used by the Attorney General. Once vacated and restored, these offices will be transformed into an information centre for visitors, to give them an overview of the tour of the Palace and other facilities in the building.
 
The project includes also the return of the Palace Armoury back to its original place on the first floor, which until recently was utilised to house the Parliament. 
 
Restoration works will also focus on the paintings hanging in corridors and on the ceilings of the Palace. The marble floor will be repaired, and the halls will be redecorated and furnished. 
 
The Grand Master’s Palace is one of the finest buildings in Valletta. From its inception in the 1570s, the building served as a centre of power and authority for Malta’s rulers, key office members, the government and later as the seat of its representatives. It has also hosted the Office of the Governors General and still hosts the Office of the President of Malta. 
 
Despite its overarching importance, the Palace did not receive any specific holistic attention since the end of the Second World War. Since then, it has been fragmented by multiple, often short-sighted uses which have resulted in lack of a coherent vision and damage to the building fabric and its contents, including the construction of partitions and other accretions. 
 
The entire project is being led by the Restoration Directorate and Heritage Malta, which fall within the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government.