National gallery for art still on agenda
Setting up a national art gallery is still on the Government’s agenda but it wants to consider more sites. The gallery, which would offer a much-needed platform to showcase the works of Maltese artists, was a pre-election promise that would be fulfilled, Tourism Minister Karmenu Vella and Culture Parliamentary Secretary José Herrera said.
Earlier this week, artists learned that the Government had discarded plans to shift the National Museum of Fine Arts out of its present location in South Street, Valletta, to Auberge d’Italie, which houses the Tourism Ministry.
The Government said it needed to consider a “number of other sites” that could be used to make the country’s artistic legacy more accessible but was “committed” to listen – instead of speak – and study all possibilities. Its commitment was clearly prioritised as the Budget allocation for culture increased by €1.6 million, it said.
The previous government planned to move the Tourism Ministry and the Malta Tourism Authority to Admiralty House and other properties in Old Mint Street and the museum’s library and curator’s office had already been relocated to Auberge d’Italie.
The new location would have been at the crux of a cultural area surrounded by the Pjazza Teatru Rjal, St James Cavalier and Pjazza de Valette.
Echoing the disappointment expressed by a number of artists, the University Students’ Council urged the Government to reconsider the “ludicrous move”, noting the relocation had been intended to give Malta’s national collection the space and priority it needed, ensuring “adequate display, conservation and research opportunities”.
The Nationalist Party also condemned the decision, saying it was an insult to the artistic community and indicated that arts and culture were not important to the Government.