Restoration works being carried out at the National Museum of Archaeology’s Gran Salon are revealing various layers of decorations from different times in the history of this hall.

The Gran Salon, on the second floor of the Auberge de Provence in Valletta, is one of the most striking and elegant halls in the Maltese islands. Measuring 10.3m by 23.5m with a height of 8.5m, the walls and ceiling, supported by 20 massive beams, are entirely covered with painted decorations.

Senior conservator Anthony Spagnol said this was the first time that the Gran Salon was undergoing such professional conservation.

“The difficulty of the conservation stems from damage both on the face of the painting and in the layers underneath. There is considerable detachment of the plaster layer, below the lime-based paints, that have to be consolidated before any restoration can be carried out,” he said.

Mr Spagnol added that upon close visual inspection, different designs below the surface layer were noticed.

“This consolidates the fact that the hall went through various restoration interventions in its long history. However, not all the alterations that were carried out have significant importance. We have ample proof that many of these interventions were executed with extensive artistic license. These are being removed following lab results from samples taken to determine the age of the different paint layers.”

These works are being supported by Bank of Valletta.

Chairman Deo Scerri said preserving Malta’s rich cultural heritage was a major pillar of the bank’s corporate social responsibility.

The damage to the Gran Salon was accentuated by several factors including water infiltration over the years, the natural yellowing of varnishes, the accumulation of dirt and grime, as well as previous restoration projects that were carried out in the past.

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