Underwater Malta: First Virtual Museum in the Mediterranean
Sunken aircraft and submarines usually seen only by divers
Malta has just launched The Virtual Museum – Underwater Malta, the first of its kind in the Mediterranean. Three years in the making, this Virtual Museum is a new and innovative way for viewers to access underwater archaeological sites in Malta. The aim of the project was for people to see panoramic underwater views that are typically only viewable by diving down deep into the Mediterranean. Malta is already rated as one of the World’s top diving sites, and it is hoped that this Virtual Underwater Museum will attract even more divers to Malta.
The Underwater Malta project, featuring 10 sites to start with, is in collaboration with the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), the University of Malta, and Heritage Malta. The Virtual Museum – Underwater Malta uses 3-D models, VR video, and photography, the result of five years collecting images and data that allow audiences to get the full underwater exploration experience.
The depths of the sites range from 2 meters (approx. 7 feet) to 110m. (approx. 361 feet) Although the initial launch features 10 sites, it is hoped another 10 will be added by the end of 2020 and even more in 2021. The 10 current sites explore shipwrecks, plane crashes, submarines, and more sites that are right off Malta’s coast. Sites featured include B24 Liberator, JU88, Phoenician Shipwreck, HMS Stubborn, Victorian Guns, Xlighter 127, Beaufighter, Schnellboot S-31, Fairey Swordfish, and HMS Maori.
Professor Tim Gambin, from the University of Malta, noted “the concept of the Museum highlights the importance of Malta’s heritage that can only be found underwater. What we see today is just the tip of the iceberg. There was intense research done behind this project using different media and technology to unveil the 10 sites online now.”
Malta Tourism Authority CEO Gavin Gulia noted that “this is a first, not just for Malta, but for the entire Mediterranean region. This Virtual Museum will also enrich our diving tourism.” Gulia noted that in 2019 there were over 100,000 tourists visiting Malta who took part in diving activities. “This Malta Underwater project will also make more of Malta’s cultural heritage accessible to all tourists, not just the divers,” added Gulia.
Safety Measures for Tourists
Malta has produced an online brochure, Malta, Sunny & Safe, which outlines all the safety measures and procedures that the Maltese government has put into place for all hotels, bars, restaurants, clubs, beaches based on social distancing and testing.
The sunny islands of Malta, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, are home to a most remarkable concentration of intact built heritage, including the highest density of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in any nation-state anywhere. Valletta built by the proud Knights of St. John is one of the UNESCO sites and was the European Capital of Culture for 2018. Malta’s patrimony in stone ranges from the oldest free-standing stone architecture in the world, to one of the British Empire’s most formidable defensive systems, and includes a rich mix of domestic, religious and military architecture from the ancient, medieval and early modern periods. With superbly sunny weather, attractive beaches, a thriving nightlife and 7,000 years of intriguing history, there is a great deal to see and do. For more information on Malta, visit www.visitmalta.com