The National archaeological museum of Valletta presents a great number of antique artifacts found in different locations on Malta. The exposition of the museum helps the habitants and guests of the city learn a lot about different periods of Maltese history starting from Neolithic age.
The Museum is situated in the building of an old baroque style mansion Auberge de Provance. It was built in 1574 and served as the headquarters of Saint John`s Knight Order being the centre of Maltese public life of that time. The famous architect Girolamo Cassar that took part in the building of Valletta city was in charge of the design of the building. The museum was established here in 1958. Originally archaeological artifacts and paintings of Maltese and Italian artists were exhibited there. In 1974 the museum was reorganized and the paintings were transferred to the Gallery of Fine Arts. Nowadays the exposition is dedicated to the Maltese history during the Bronze Age, Punic, Antique, Arabic and Medieval periods.
Today the museum holds the prehistoric pottery, stone tools, human and animal figures, jewelry that were found during the investigations of Megalithic temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra. The oldest artifacts are more than 5000 years old. In the Roman exposition different kinds of oil lamps found in the catacombs, glass dishes and some burial tools can be seen. In the Museum two most famous statues that played an important role in the history and culture of Malta are exhibited: “The sleeping lady” encountered in the Megalithic temple of Hypogeum and “Maltese Venus” found in Hagar Qim. According to historians and archaeologists, these figures represent the goddesses of fertility and were considered sacral. Besides, the models of principal Megalithic complexes can be found here.
The museum is interesting not only from because of the exhibited items but also from the architectural point of view. Its facade is decorated with baroque decorative elements, Doric and Ionic columns. The building of Auberge de Provance is well preserved and is of grand tourist interest itself.