The bust of Grandmaster Gregorio Carafa is back to its original location over the main entrance of Auberge d’Italie, after restoration works on the bust itself and the façade were completed.
The conservation of the bust was carried out by Heritage Malta’s professional conservation staff, while work on the façade was carried out by AX Construction under the supervision of DTR Architects and the agency. This conservation work is being done in preparation for Valletta’s European Capital of Culture title in 2018, and forms part of the plans to host the new National Museum of Arts, MUŻA.
Senior Curator Alexander Debono, MUŻA Project Leader and Perit Veronica Bonello, MUŻA Projects Manager gave details on the conservation works carried out. In attendance for the presentation were Dr Joseph Buttigieg, Heritage Malta Chairman and Valletta 2018 Foundation Chairman, Mr Jason Micallef.
Perit Bonello, outlined the need for conservation required by the entire monument. Bonello noted how prior to cleaning, certain areas of the marble works required consolidation due to the fragile state of conservation. This intervention accertained that particular details were not lost and revived back to their original splendour. The marble work was cleaned by applying paper pulp and appropriate solutions compatible with the marble, to help remove the black crust. In particular areas, this process had to be repeated several times due to the thick layers of black crust accumultaed over the decades.
Other restoration works undertaken in this operation included stone changing at the façade, replacement of the three finials in the form of vases over the arched cornice crowning the marble works over the main door and the choice of new colour of the apertures. All this work followed extensive research which is being documented and retained for future reference.
During a short presentation onsite, Curator Alexander Debono said that this is a journey that will lead to 2018 and beyond. The main objective behind MUŻA is to relocate art and creativity as a resource of relevance to the community. He outlined the core values of the project and how this is a community venture in which people of all ages can participate while the museum provides the tools for interaction.
Debono added that the project is moving forward according to schedule. The winners of the international design competition are working in tandem with Heritage Malta. MUŻA will be three times bigger than the existent National Museum of Fine Arts in South Street, Valletta.