Within a week I have had two experiences in artistic venues in Valletta, which have left a very bad impression.

Firstly, I booked two seats for the Manoel Theatre in what was elegantly described as a “Parterre Box”.  They were actually two of four chairs squeezed between two pillars on the side of the auditorium, which were actually touching each other. We were joined by two mature German people and the husband was forced to stand and remove his chair so she could sit in any sort of comfort. We could not see the stage without leaning out, so if my friend leaned forward, I could not see and if I leaned out the lady next to me could not see. In the end, the couple left half way through the performance in disgust and we did in the interval.

A more fitting description of these seats would be “chairs in a corridor”, for which we had to pay €30 each. Quite disgraceful.

Then, we took two relations to see the new Museum of Fine Arts. The museum is incomplete, at least half of the works exhibited were unlabelled. Why? There were no directional signs anywhere in the building, the layout is confusing and cluttered, with insufficient room to stand back and study some of the larger paintings. Some pictures are hung on glass panels, so one can see other items behind, which is completely wrong and confusing. They should be on walls, not glass panels.

What descriptions were available are on floor level, which makes them very difficult to read. They should be at eye (or at least waist) level.

Compared to the old gallery in South Street, this new one lacks any atmosphere, it is cold and clinical and devoid of colour.

The museum has been opened far too soon before completion. Large sections, such as the Preti collections, are  not yet ready. Still, we had to pay full price for the privilege of being there.

I have to say in its defence, the staff members were all extremely pleasant and helpful. Also, the Sciortino gallery was impressive but the experience was not an enjoyable one.

The project has the potential of being special but should not be opened to the public until it is completed properly. At the very least, the admission charge should be reduced pending completion.

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