Museum of Natural Science

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Museum of Natural Science

The Gozo Nature Museum is situated behind the Courts of Justice in the Citadel in Rabat, Gozo. Until recently, the Museum was known as the Natural Science Museum. The name Nature Museum is more appropriate to the collection, which focuses mainly on Gozo’s natural resources and their use by the island’s inhabitants.

The Gozo Nature Museum is housed within a cluster of three domestic buildings, now interconnected, which date back to the 1600s. During later years, this building was used as an inn for visitors, and is mentioned in Thomas McGill’s Handbook or Guide for Strangers visiting Malta of 1839, and described as “an excellent house of entertainment” offering “clean and comfortable beds” and reasonably-priced dinners. During World War II the building served as a shelter for families who sought refuge during aerial bombings. The Museum was transferred to its present location in 1991.

The Museum’s collection is distributed on two floors: the ground floor comprises the geology, minerals, human and animal evolution, and marine life sections. The geology display highlights the geology of the island of Gozo and includes marine organisms deposited on the sea floor between 35 and 5 million years ago and fragments of fossil bones from the Maltese Islands. The centrepiece is a selection of stalactites and stalagmites. The fossil collection in this section contains a large number of specimens originating from that of the 18th century Gozitan scholar Canon Agius de Soldanis. The majority of the specimens in the mineral collection come from the generous donation of Dr Lewis Mizzi, a Gozitan lawyer and mineralogist of great repute.

An exhibit not to be missed is a tiny specimen of a moonstone accompanied by a small Maltese flag. The stone was brought from the moon’s surface by the crew of Apollo II and donated to the Maltese people by President Nixon.

The upper floor is dedicated to entomology (the study of insects) and the flora and ecosystems of the Maltese Islands, particularly of Gozo. The entomology room holds a small but impressive collection of exotic insects, butterflies and moths, and includes some local examples. Special attention is given to the Dwejra area with its ecosystem and flora. An important specimen is the Malta Fungus, formerly believed to grow only on the so-called ‘Fungus Rock’ in Dwejra. A section dedicated to different habitats and ecosystems particular to Gozo is currently under construction.

A small garden at the back of the Museum is dedicated to garigue flora and one can observe examples of typical indigenous plants, including the Maltese Rock Centaury, the national plant.

Source: Heritage Malta