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St John’s Co-Cathedral is a gem of Baroque art and architecture. It was built as the conventual church for the Knights of St John. The Grand Masters and several knights donated gifts of high artistic value and made enormous contributions to enrich it with only the best works of art. This church is till this very day an important shrine and a sacred place of worship. It is also a venue for cultural events.
The Preservation of St John’s Co-Cathedral - the pride of the Maltese nation
There is no better way to celebrate the heritage of the Order of St John than with the refurbishment and extension of the museum at St John’s Co-Cathedral.
The preservation of St John’s Co-Cathedral and its priceless art collections are the focus of the extension and refurbishment of St John’s Co-Cathedral museum. The new museum extension project was announced in February 2015. It is specifically designed to meet three pressing challenges.
First, to relieve the church from overcrowding and therefore to reduce conservation pressures on one of the world’s most important Baroque interiors. The sensitively designed museum will make use of all the spaces within its existing footprint and thus greatly improve the circulation of its visitors. This will also provide the space and means to give the visitors an educational and comfortable visit that is now expected by the experienced travellers.
Secondly, to create a hall to exhibit the set of Flemish tapestries, a set that is the largest seventeenth-century series based on the creations of the world-renowned artist Peter Paul Rubens. The display of this dazzling set of tapestries in the correct conservation environment where they can be enjoyed and studied after the painstakingly delicate and costly restoration, which is almost, complete.
Thirdly, to install a Caravaggio Centre. St John’s owns the largest and most important work by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. This centre will be highly informative, where the visual interactive educational means will arouse curiosity and provide an exciting and enjoyable experience that appeals to all ages and levels of knowledge. This Caravaggio Centre will serve to reaffirm Malta’s contribution to international art historical studies.
The entrance and exit will be from Merchants street through the modern arches built in the post-World War II decades. This area will provide a spacious and welcome foyer for visitors who at present queue up in the street. The monument to the knights who fell in the Great Siege, will become the focus of attention as visitors enter the courtyard.
This project of national importance will ensure that all Maltese citizens will be made proud of this unique heritage site. Its visitors the majority of which tourists, will leave St John’s with an enlightening experience they will remember.