About the Museum

Underwater cultural heritage sites are out of sight and more often than not out of mind. The reason for this situation is simple – the physical barrier created by the sea itself. To date, only divers or people in submarines are able to visit these historic time capsules. There still exist limitations brought about by depth, remoteness and legislation. In fact, one of the central principles of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage is that ‘State Parties shall promote public awareness regarding the value and importance of underwater cultural heritage’, a principle that is fully endorsed by The Virtual Museum – Underwater Malta. This online platform brings underwater cultural heritage to the surface and into the homes of the general public.  Using 3D, virtual reality and other media, the aim of this website is to provide access to and share Malta’s unique underwater cultural heritage with all members of the public.

The Project

Advances in technology provide this astounding opportunity to explore the underwater world without getting wet! The use of powerful cameras and special underwater lights enable us to capture Malta’s underwater cultural heritage in such a way as to make it accessible to everyone, and allowing the public to dive into history. The creation of this digital record contributes to the continued effort for the preservation and protection of Malta’s submerged cultural heritage for future generations.

In order to provide a virtual experience to the public, the project team descended to the depths using rebreather technology. Using powerful cameras and special underwater lights to systematically record the sites, high-resolution imagery obtained by divers was converted to 3D and virtual reality models. Sometimes it was necessary to carry out multiple dives so as to obtain full coverage of the site. Dive teams were composed of one cameraperson, a light operator and a safety diver. The recording of underwater cultural heritage sites as high-resolution 3D models also allows for the creation of important benchmarks. These facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the historic fabric as well as the natural heritage of these submerged sites.

This information is a vital component of strategic decisions on preservation, protection and public access. The sites presented in this online museum are located on the seabed off both Malta and Gozo.  They reflect the various roles that the islands played throughout their history. Through the centuries the islands have borne witness to events such as the foundering of an archaic shipwreck, naval blockades, the impact of naval mines and intense aerial battles.

We are proud to present sites that range from a 2,700-year-old Phoenician shipwreck to First World War surface craft and, submarines and aircraft from the Second World War. The sites presented here also form part of various ongoing projects, such as the continued investigation and deep-water excavation of the Phoenician Shipwreck, and the recording and documentation of First and Second World War vessels and aircraft.

Read more about the behind the scenes production of this Underwater Virtual Tour by clicking: HERE




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