The world of food, art and politics came together in the ritual of Baroque Banqueting – the formal and communal sharing of food and drink. This is the subject of a new exhibition at the National Museum of Archaeology, which focuses on the banqueting culture of Malta under the Order of St. John.

Malta between the 16th and 18th century imported many aspects of European food and dining culture – mainly from Renaissance Italy and from Rococo France. An especially striking feature was the CONVITO – the formal banquet – which was above all a theatrical backdrop for political discussion and intrigue. Banquets were a central feature of the Order’s politics, starting with the Grand Masters and involving all social orders of Maltese society in this period.

This exhibition takes a novel approach to this phenomenon, through a study of the archaeology of banqueting and in particular through a presentation of the artistic ceramics used in such events. On display are a range of beautifully crafted maiolica and porcelain vessels used both for display and for serving food during formal banquets.

The items on display were all discovered in archaeological investigations in Malta, or were conserved in local museum collections – most of these artifacts are being exhibited publicly for the first time in this exhibition. The exhibition includes two late Renaissance plates belonging to Cardinal Farnese’s famous credenza, a Chinese Ming porcelain import to Malta, important examples of South Italian heraldic plates, and a wide range of French and north Italian faience including examples in the Rococo style of Moustier.

The exhibition approaches the subject of historic banqueting in a multi-disciplinary manner, combining elements from archaeology, history, art-history and anthropology. It is the outcome of a close collaboration between Heritage Malta museums (National Museum of Archaeology, Inquisitor’s Palace, MUŻA and Gozo Museums), the Malta National Library and the Metropolitan Chapter of Malta.

The exhibition will be opened on the 27th of October and will run until the 31st December 2023. A booklet will be available for sale at the exhibition venue. Admission to the exhibition is free.

FARE CONVITO –The Archaeology of Banqueting in Hospitaller Malta (16th to 18th century)


27 Oct 2023 - 31 Dec 2023

Mon to Sun (Closed on Good Friday, Christmas Eve & Day, New Year’s Eve & Day):: 10.00 - 18.00

Valletta, Malta

Free Admission €0

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