The Museum is housed in the 18th century Magisterial Palace of Justice within the medieval walled city of Mdina. The original building served as the seat of the Universita', or local Government. In the early 18th century, a new entrance to the city was constucted and the Portuguese Grand Master Antonio Manuel de Vilhena (1722-36) re-structured the buildings at personal expense and transformed it into the present palace. A bronze bust of the Grandmaster of the Order lies above the main door and Vilhena's coat-of-arms are scultptured on the main gateway and inside the portico.
In the early 20th century the palace was converted into a hospital through the generous funding of HRH the Duke of Connaught and was officially inaugurated on 22nd April 1909, by King Edward VII. Throughout the forty or so years of its existence, it was popularly known as the Connaught Hospital. The National Museum of Natural History was set up in the palace in 1973.
The Museum houses some historically important collections, namely Mamo's choncological collection, Mizzi`s mineral collection, and the various collections of Giuseppe Despott. The reference collection holds over 10,000 rocks and minerals, over 3,500 birds, bird's eggs and nests, 200 mammals, over 200 fish species, thousands of local and exotic shells and insects. The fossil collection is also noteworthy as it contains a number of large fish, numerous species of sea urchins and other marine fauna found embedded in limestone rocks.
The museum focuses mainly on the faunal aspects of natural sciences and the current displays cover themes such as human evolution, insects, birds and habitats and marine ecosystems. The Geology and Palaeontology displays are of particular merit and are of both local and international interest. The museum also houses a reference library on natural sciences.
National Museum of Natural History
St Publius Square
Mdina RBT 12