Natural Science Museum, Gozo
Situated behind the Law Courts in the Citadel of Victoria, Gozo, the Natural Science Museum is hosted in an old house the origins of which may date back to the Aragonese period. During the 17th and 18th centuries it was used as an inn. A visitor to the islands in the 19th century is on record as having remarked that the hotel was clean, that the food was good, and that the prices were reasonable. During the Second World War, the building gave shelter to several Maltese families who sought refuge from enemy action in Malta.
The museum’s collections are on two floors: the ground floor comprises mainly the minerals and geology sections - the latter being dedicated mainly to the geology of Gozo; while the upper floor is dedicated to ornithology and entomology.
The geology display includes marine organisms deposited on the sea floor between 35 and 5 million years ago and fragments of fossil bones from the Maltese Islands of Ice Age elephants and hippopotami. The centrepiece is a selection of stalactites and stalagmites from Gozitan caves. Another section is that of minerals, mainly from the collection of Dr Lewis Mizzi, a Gozitan lawyer and mineralogist of great repute.
Two other sections on the same floor are dedicated to human and animal evolution and marine life. 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 collection continues on the second floor with the ornithology display; a small collection of stuffed and mounted birds, the majority of which are migratory. Most of these birds are now legally protected species. The entomology room holds a small but impressive collection of exotic insects, butterflies and moths, and includes some local examples.
The final display is dedicated to the flora and ecosystems of the Maltese Islands, particularly of Gozo. 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 Bay. On display one can also view the Maltese Rock Centuary, the national plant.