The furrows on fishermen’s foreheads, the cavernous coves of our coastline, the marauding galleys of the Knights of St John. The Mediterranean has carved and shaped the identity, topography and fortunes of a nation. An epic of sustenance and survival, trade and travel, our seafaring past is celebrated on a milestone anniversary today, thirty years since the Malta Maritime Museum first opened its doors to the public in 1992.

Madonna delle Grazie G1, a model of a Dgħajsa tal-Latini, registration Number MMM 000001, was the first artefact to be entered into the inventory of the brand-new museum. The Lateen boat, named after its distinctive triangular sails, was made by Elia Scerri, a shipwright from Zabbar and commissioned for Dr Alan Moor, who presented it to the Valletta Museum in 1918. A familiar sight plying the Gozo channel until the 1960s, the Dgħajsa tal-Latini was primarily used for the transportation of supplies and passengers between the two islands. Known colloquially as the Gozo Boat, the Dgħajsa was constructed in Malta, mainly in Senglea, Kalkara and Marsa, and not in Gozo as the name may suggest. The Latini is the largest of the traditional Maltese vessels, which evolved in the mid-19th century from an older traditional boat called the Xprunara. In 2020, Heritage Malta acquired one of the last surviving examples of this classic seacraft, aiming not only at the preservation of the time-honoured boat itself but also of the intangible heritage of Maltese boat-building know-how.

The Malta Maritime Museum is currently closed to the public as it is undergoing a major EEA, Norway Grants-funded rehabilitation project that will increase and improve the Museum’s public footprint, including new spaces for the reserve collection and the permanent exhibition area in a combined effort towards to make Maltese Maritime Heritage accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Watch the Maritime Museum’s Emeritus Curator, Mr Antonio Espinosa Rodriguez, delve into the history of the Dgħajsa tal-Latini on Malta Maritime Museum Norway Grant

Keep updated with the ongoing Civil Works at the Malta Maritime Museum on link

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