Case Histories

Rabat - Malta


Illuminating art and history

The Wignacourt Museum, a UNESCO world heritage site in Rabat on the island of Malta, is housed in the building that was once the baroque residence of the Chaplains of the Knights of Malta.

Inaugurated in the early seventeenth century, the residence brings together hundreds of historical artefacts regarding the history of the Order of Malta, as well as works by artists such as Mattia Preti, Antoine Favray and Francesco Zahra.



This unique historical site, developed over three floors, has been brought back to its former splendour following painstaking restoration and has recently reopened to the public, with light playing a key role in displaying the structure and its artefacts. The solution conceived to light the museum, while fully respecting and at the same time enhancing such a valuable architectural structure, saw the choice of Point and Matrix wired track articles. With their balanced fluorescent and halogen light sources they skilfully determine the level of ambience lighting suited to creating the ideal contrasts with the accent lighting on the historical artefacts and paintings. Quara path-markers were also installed; they are surface-mounted so that they highlight the steps of several internal staircases, without being invasive, and offer a clear vision of the areas without tiring the eyes.

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      Malta’s Wignacourt museum has a rich historical heritage, so what limits did UNESCO impose on you?

      Considering that the Wignacourt museum is a historical baroque building, former residence of Grand Master Aloph de Wignacourt, and also includes St Paul’s Grotto underneath, the team of engineers and I had to be very careful not to damage this very well-preserved historical building. We met several times before work began to discuss the possibilities for wiring without damaging the stone.

      What was the main aim when defining the lighting concept?

      We wanted to breathe new life into this Museum by lighting the features of the building, like the antique arches, coats of arms, and other wonderful designs on the Maltese stone...This Museum has many paintings and ancient artefacts that were not on display, so we wanted to show the wealth of this building and its collection in all their splendour.

      Can we say that it is also thanks to the lighting that this treasure has re-emerged after restoration? What kinds of products were used in the project?

      As I mentioned, many objects were not on display and this complete restoration has made it possible to display the entire collection owned by the Museum.I wanted to give the venue a very strong impact by choosing modern lighting that develops in harmony with the project, using wired systems (300 System with Matrix and Point with 2 spotlights) that are installed from wall to wall to avoid ceiling installations since some ceilings are made from slabs of Maltese stone or of wood. By using this type of wiring system we were able to leave the ceilings free of any lighting installations so they could be enjoyed as they are.In some cases we used wall-mounted track lighting to make it possible to move or direct the spotlights in the future, in the event that displays needs to be moved or rearranged; for the stairwells we chose low level surface mounted LED lighting (Quara) and in other cases we used spotlights (Point) to create accent lighting on the walls and other stone features.

      In what way did Linea Light Group support you in this project? Were any customised products created to meet specific requirements?

      Since I have known and worked with Linea Light Group for the past nine years I know all the collections extremely well so I designed the entire lighting system starting from what is available in the Tràddel and i-LèD ranges. The range is so extensive and versatile that I didn’t need to ask for any customised lighting fixtures for this project.

      There are many works of art in the Wignacourt Museum, would you be so kind as to point out to us how you lit some of the numerous works by Preti? Is there one in particular you’d like to mention?

      Yes, Mattia Preti left us a great number of paintings and the Wignacourt Museum is one of the buildings or churches where you can admire these masterpieces... Using the wire system – 300 System – from the Tràddel catalogue, I chose to include Point with 2 spotlights to provide indirect lighting, with anti-UV bulbs, to ensure that the paintings cannot be damaged by the lighting, and thanks to the fact that the Point spotlights can be adjusted and rotated we were able to adjust the lighting on the paintings to avoid glare.Recently, I also had the chance to light one particular painting by Mattia Preti, the portrait of St. Nicholas on the main altar in the church of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of the town of Siggiewi.Thank you for your time. We are sure that this is a project of great historical and cultural value, and is certainly worth a visit.Of course, the Wignacourt Museum is an extraordinary building and houses a collection that must be visited by tourists and locals alike: this is not the only place of interest though, there are many other historical sites around Malta and on her sister island of Gozo too."