The Malta Independent 30 March 2023, Thursday
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Exhibition celebrates donation of Carnival memorabilia to Heritage Malta

Friday, 3 February 2023, 15:37 Last update: about 3 months ago

An exhibition celebrating a remarkable donation of Carnival memorabilia to Heritage Malta has been inaugurated at the Inquisitor's Palace in Birgu and will run until 9 April.

The exhibition, entitled Viva Viva l-Karnival: The George Zahra Donation, comprises official Carnival programmes dating as far back as 1930, models for Carnival floats, music scores, trophies and participation certificates, among other memorabilia.


Besides the intrinsic value towards the study of the subject of Carnival itself, this donation sums up George Zahra's vocation and life mission. Zahra lives for Carnival, has particpated in more than 70 editions and has served on the national organising committee for more than fifty years. He still forms part of the Federation of European Carnival Cities (FECC). He has always been an avid collector of Carnival memorabilia, some of which represent his successes during the 1950s and 1960s.

Viva Viva l-Karnival: The George Zahra Donation is a journey through Zahra's life and a priviledged insight into Carnival from behind the scenes. It also showcases the consideration enjoyed by Heritage Malta, as the agency has been entrusted with a collection which is not only very dear to its owner but which also bears a story. This is not only George Zahra's story, but also our story as a nation and therefore a story that is part of us.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a busy outreach programme targeting different audiences. Following the exhibition, the donated items will form part of the reserve collection at the Inquisitor's Palace - National Museum of Ethnography.

Speaking at the exhibition's inauguration, Heritage Malta's Chairman, Mario Cutajar, thanked and commended George Zahra for entrusting Heritage Malta with the impressive collection he has gathered over the years. He expressed hope that others will follow suit, so that the national collection will be further enriched while donors have peace of mind knowing that their cherished items will be well cared for and conserved for future generations.

Kenneth Cassar, Heritage Malta's Senior Curator for Ethnography, said that Carnival is an integral part of our national identity and we should be thankful to all the hardworking individuals who, like George Zahra, are completely committed to Carnival. This exhibition serves as a testament to George Zahra's work as a participant, his complete dedication as an organiser, and his extensive donation to Heritage Malta.

George Zahra, who was present at the inauguration and showed the press around the exhibition, expressed his contentment that the collection he has garnered over 70 years may now be enjoyed by the public. He appealed to those who have similar material to get in touch with him so that in time there would be a whole museum, and not just an exhibition, dedicated to the Maltese Carnival.

Entrance to the exhibition is part and parcel of the Inquisitor's Palace experience and no additional fee is incurred.

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