Il-Ħaġar | Heart of Gozo Museum and Cultural Centre is located at the heart of Victoria (Rabat), the main town of the island of Gozo. It strives to present the visitor with an authentic experience of the Gozitan heritage and Christian culture that form this island community. Il-Ħaġar recounts the history of this island through its people: their beliefs, their abilities and their products.
This Museum and Cultural Centre was created, and is run by Fondazzjoni Belt Victoria, an enrolled voluntary organisation created for this aim, among others, in 1998.
Il-Ħaġar is the result of a major crowdfunding effort by the people of Victoria and numerous persons and corporate entities that contributed towards its realisation. It was also the recipient of significant financing through the European Regional Development Fund; Cohesion Policy 2007-2013 (Operational Programme 1: Investing in Competitiveness for a Better Quality of Life. The Museum and Cultural Centre was opened officially in 2013. It houses the significant artistic and historic patrimony of St George’s Parish Basilica, with which it is very closely associated, and donations and bequests it has received since the constitution of the Foundation. Among these, one finds various liturgical objects, historical items and documents, and the unique donation by Prof. Joseph Vella (1942-2018) consisting of his entire ouvre spanning over 60 years: original classified works (156 compositions). The Joseph Vella Music Archive also includes the relevant sketches, CDs, memorabilia and critical historical material.
Apart from the permanent collection, the Centre also includes a temporary exhibition space, a number of Audio-visual rooms, a Rooftop terrace bar, just refurbished, providing spectacular views of St George’s Basilica, the Castello with the skyline of Victoria, and the rural landscape of Gozo.
Run and operated entirely by volunteers, the Centre is open seven days a week from 0900h to 1700h and is very active in the cultural and artistic scene of the island. The management of the centre is run by a wide spectrum of volunteers ranging from students to retirees, hailing from different backgrounds, including the business community, academia, the financial sector, education, science, technology, and others.
The Centre is very active, organising events of its own, such as landmark exhibitions, public lectures, educational (particularly children’s) activities. It also launched the series ‘The Joseph Vella Memorial Lecture’ after the benefactor’s passing. This is a yearly lecture given in his honour every February. The Centre hosts temporary exhibitions by third parties, private events and community initatitives. Il-Ħaġar also boasts a good number of publications, among which the series launched four years ago named ‘Il-Ħaġar Gems’, which has now reached more than twenty publications.
Il-Ħaġar is fully accessible for persons with limited mobility, and is looking forward to expanding its experience to persons with different special needs. All contributions – including expertise – in this regard are most welcome.
Il-Ħaġar also strives to bear witness to the Christian heritage of the people of Gozo and to propose the Catholic way of life as a viable proposition in today’s world.