The National Museum of Fine Arts is located at the lower end of South Street (Valletta) within an area including other fine historical palaces dating from the times of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The area is also well known for its wine bars and cafes and offers little-known breathtaking views of the city's grid-shaped streets which visitors usually explore on their way to the museum.
The building was originally one of the earliest to be built in Valletta and served as residence to successive Knights of the Order of St. John. It was later largely rebuilt during the 1760's by Fra Ramon de Sousa y Silva, a wealthy Portuguese knight of the Order of St. John, and adopted as his private residence. During the early 19th century the palace was home to Louis-Charles of Orleans; Comte de Beaujolais, during his brief stay on the island followed shortly by his demise. By the 1820's the palace became known as Admiralty House and seat of the Commander-in Chief of the British Mediterranean Fleet. Two marble plaques strategically placed on each side of the grand staircase list its residents including high ranking personalities such as Lord Mountbatten of Burma. The palace also welcomed high-profile dignitaries including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, King George V and Queen Elizabeth of England.
The palace was officially inaugurated as the National Museum of Fine Arts in 1974 and has since then been Malta’s most important museum for the arts. The museum houses key works, including noteworthy examples of international importance, from the national collection of Malta. These include works by Joseph Mallord, William Turner, Mattia Preti and household names including Antonio Sciortino and Francesco Zahra amongst many others. On exhibit one can also admire fine furniture pieces, maiolica jars and silverware. From time to time particular items also feature in international exhibitions.
Respect Malta’s heritage sites; in some places whilst photography is allowed, the use of a flash is forbidden – Please look out for the information signs.