Malta has just launched The Virtual Museum – Underwater Malta, the first of its kind in the Mediterranean. Three years in the making, this Virtual Museum is a new and innovative way for viewers to access underwater archaeological sites in Malta.
The aim of the project was for people to see panoramic underwater views that are typically only viewable by diving down deep into the Mediterranean. Malta is already rated as one of the World’s top diving sites, and it is hoped that this Virtual Underwater Museum will attract even more divers to Malta.
The Underwater Malta project, featuring 10 sites to start with, is in collaboration with the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), the University of Malta, and Heritage Malta. The Virtual Museum – Underwater Malta uses 3-D models, VR video, and photography, the result of five years collecting images and data that allow audiences to get the full underwater exploration experience.
The depths of the sites range from 2 meters (approx. 7 feet) to 110m. (approx. 361 feet) Although the initial launch features 10 sites, it is hoped another 10 will be added by the end of 2020 and even more in 2021. The 10 current sites explore shipwrecks, plane crashes, submarines, and more sites that are right off Malta’s coast. Sites featured include B24 Liberator, JU88, Phoenician Shipwreck, HMS Stubborn, Victorian Guns, Xlighter 127, Beaufighter, Schnellboot S-31, Fairey Swordfish, and HMS Maori.
Professor Tim Gambin, from the University of Malta, noted “the concept of the Museum highlights the importance of Malta’s heritage that can only be found underwater. What we see today is just the tip of the iceberg. There was intense research done behind this project using different media and technology to unveil the 10 sites online now.”
Malta Tourism Authority CEO Gavin Gulia noted that “this is a first, not just for Malta, but for the entire Mediterranean region. This Virtual Museum will also enrich our diving tourism.” Gulia noted that in 2019 there were over 100,000 tourists visiting Malta who took part in diving activities. “This Malta Underwater project will also make more of Malta’s cultural heritage accessible to all tourists, not just the divers,” added Gulia.