MUŻA is the new National Museum of Art in Malta and Heritage Malta’s flagship project for Valletta’s capital city of culture title in 2018. It represents a significant development in the history of museums in Malta as a new museum typology in line with the latest developments in Europe and elsewhere. It shall promote greater participation by the community through a story-based narrative of display and related objects and empower a broader range of access tools to experience heritage and culture.
The word MUŻA stands for the project’s vision. The word is an acronym which stands for MUŻew Nazzjonali tal-Arti which is the Maltese name of the current National Museum of Fine Arts. It also refers to the muses; the mythological figures from classical antiquity inspiring creativity and, in effect, the etymological source of the word museum. MUŻA is also the Maltese word for inspiration.
MUŻA strives to recognise the history of the collection of the Malta National Museum of Fine Arts, and the values which have shaped it over time. The current national museum was established as a section within a bigger Malta museum in 1924 and as a national museum proper in 1974. The values which have shaped this museum as it grew from a section into a museum proper are but the foundation stones of the MUŻA project that will rethink the collection into a source of inspiration to the Maltese community and beyond. Looking back at how the muses inspired creativity, the project shall keep questioning the relevance of museums in this day and age and how these have to remain dynamic and vibrant institutions owned by the community.
MUŻA shall be located at Auberge d’Italie; a historic site in the World Heritage Site of Valletta, Malta’s Capital city, where the first Malta Museum was established in 1924. The site falls within the footprint of the Renzo Piano City Gate Project which includes an open air theatre and a centre for creativity. The building was the seat of the Italian knights of the Order of St John and has a fascinating story which the project is helping to unfold. In 1920 the building was also chosen as the seat of the then Valletta Museum where the national collection, including what was then known as the fine arts section, was put on display. Indeed, the Fine Arts Section was set up here to slowly develop and evolve into a national museum in its own right.