Happy Birthday, Wignacourt!
Today marks the first anniversary since the Wignacourt Collegiate Museum reopened its doors to the public, and we’ve got an exclusive interview with its curator, Dun Gwann Azzopardi.
The premises which host the Wignacourt Collegiate Museum have had many different uses over the centuries, including as a school during World War II, a storage space, and as the official residency of the chaplains of the Order of the Saint John. In 1981 it opened its doors to the public, but the museum was rundown and sharing a space with many other things. With the help and dedication of many, a restoration project was embarked on and the restored sites were opened to the public on 12 December 2012.
Today, it is an historical wonder, with adjoining complexes that include the holy St Paul’s Grotto, an area of Heritage Malta’s St Paul’s Catacombs, war shelters and St Publius’s Chapel as well as the collegiate museum itself; and together, this collection of historically-rich sites, tell a story of reverence, wealth and nation that spans almost 2000 years.
Here, we talk to Dun Gwann Azzopardi, the Wignacourt’s current curator and a man who, for decades, worked to see this site turned into something both nationals and foreigners could enjoy.
“I have been involved in the Wignacourt for years and one of my main roles has been to see this magnificent, historic building of the collegiate turned into a proper museum. Over the years, many spoke of the potential but also of the difficulties due to its associations and its role as a storage space for the paraphernalia involved in organising the village feast.
“I was never disheartened, however, and through thorough investigation into what could be done and promoting changes, I helped organise exhibitions, talks, meetings – sometimes even in unpleasant settings – and together we managed.
“Once the restoration started, and that included repairing the building’s roofs, floors, rooms and garden, and securing almost all of the exhibits – a success that simply boils down to an agreement between the Curia, the Rabat parish church and a private company, motivated by one person who has impeccably good taste and aims towards perfection.
“Finally, with the help of the Rabat parish and many friends, we managed to turn our dream into reality, and today we have the Wignacourt Collegiate Museum, one of the best museums in Malta in terms of contents and presentation. We’ve also given art lovers and students the opportunity to study and research the museum and its contents. Nevertheless, one of my greatest displeasures is not having the incredibly rich archives form part of the agreement we have.
“A year on, I’m really glad to see that people are impressed when they come here and often say that they would come again or at least encourage their family and friends to visit. We’ve also had some rave reviews about the Wignacourt Café, so all in all, we’re doing really well!”
From iggyfenech.com, we’d like to wish the Wignacourt Collegiate Museum all the best for many, many more years of bliss! It is truly a wonderful museum and one I have had the pleasure to work very closely with and both the people and the premises are absolutely wonderful!
For more information on the Wignacourt and its adjoining complexes please follow their official blog, e-mail them at email@example.com or call on+356 2749 4905. You can follow the Wignacourt Museum and the Wignacourt Café on Facebook.