26 Jan Maps at MUŻA inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register
Four maps forming a unique narrative of the Great Siege of 1565 have made it to the UNESCO memory of the world register. Three of these maps belong to the cartographic collection at MUŻA and the fourth at the Faculty of Science at Charles University in Prague. Heritage Malta broke the news this afternoon during a press conference held by the Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Hon. Dr. Owen Bonnici, at the agency’s Head Office, Bighi.
This is the first time ever that Malta has made it to this prestigious list; a most welcome addition to the UNESCO world heritage sites managed by the National Agency. In their official statement UNESCO favourably acknowledged that this collection of maps jointly owned by two European institutions. ‘collectively fill one of the many lacunae in the visual chronicle of the well-known Great Siege of Malta of 1565. Should one of the states be lost or damaged, the integrity of this series would be irreparably compromised.’ UNESCO also state that ‘The inclusion of this documentary heritage in the Memory of the World Register reflects its exceptional value’ and ‘offers an excellent opportunity to draw attention to the importance of the collective memory and its safeguard…’
These Great Siege maps are the work of Italian publisher Giovanni Francesco Camocio, a thriving publisher and dealer of maps, prints and books. Distributed far and wide, these news maps were once the most effective means of reporting the latest developments of the Siege. The maps document events that took place between August and September of 1565, illustrating the attack on Senglea and the withdrawal of the Ottoman forces. The items will be one of the highlights in the permanent display of MUŻA, the National Community Art Museum and flagship project of Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture, scheduled to open towards mid-2018. The discovery in 2013 of State 2 of the Great Siege of Malta Map by Giovanni Francesco Camocio [fl. second half 16th century] at the Charles University Map Collection in Prague provided the unique opportunity for it to be linked with States 1, 3 and 4 at the MUŻA Cartographic Collection. This significant merge thus permanently sealed this four-state series of Great Siege maps and was also the subject of an exhibition held a few months ago at the National Museum of Archaeology.