Times of Malta, 7th July 2008

A priceless collection of rare maps of Malta belonging to scholar and lawyer Albert Ganado, 84, which he meant to give to the nation, could have slipped through the government’s fingers when he was hospitalised a couple of weeks ago to be treated for a heart ailment, The Times has learnt.

On Dr Ganado’s initiative, negotiations between him and the government have been going on for the past five years to pass on the maps in return for the house, which is public property, where he and his wife Muriel live in Mikiel Anton Vassalli Street, Valletta.

Dr Ganado is now recovering and the official handover of the collection – which is considered by experts to be one of the government’s biggest acquisitions – is expected to take place soon.

A resolution to this effect was approved unanimously in the House Business Committee last week and is expected to be confirmed by Parliament this week.

The unique collection contains hand painted as well as printed maps of Malta which Dr Ganado has put together out of his own pocket and researched during the past 50 years.

The maps, 450 in all, date back to between 1507 and 1899.

The maps will be housed at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta but will not be on permanent display because of the damage light can do to them. They will, in fact, be stored in what are called dedicated plan chests which the museum has already acquired. They will be displayed occasionally in specific exhibitions and for research purposes.

“Dr Ganado’s collection was put together through a lifetime of painstaking research and contains rare and unique items,” Sandro Debono, senior curator arts and palaces at Heritage Malta said when contacted yesterday.

A number of related books and publications are also included. Dr Ganado is an authority on maps and has published a number of studies in which items from his collection feature prominently.

“Experts consider this transfer as one of the biggest ever acquisitions made by the government. This is an extremely fine gesture by Dr Ganado who is an international authority on cartography. The collection represents a great asset when seen in the context of how it was built and researched thoroughly,” Mr Debono added.

Dr Ganado has authored a number of books largely on the history of cartography and since 1955 has contributed to Encyclopaedia Britannica on various aspects of Maltese history and law. He is a Knight of the Sovereign Order of St John and a Member, Order of Merit of Malta.