The Notarial Registers Archive (NRA), with an investment of €5 million, of which over €4 million came from the 2014-2020 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has been inaugurated. The project was officially inaugurated by the Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government Owen Bonnici, the Minister for Justice Jonathan Attard and Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Chris Bonett.
The project commenced in 2016. Since 2021, the Notarial Archives Register has become part of the National Archives of Malta. In July 2023, the Notarial Archives Foundation took over its management and operation.
Minister Owen Bonnici stated that this Archive is a unique source of information where facts about the history of Malta and the Mediterranean continue to be discovered. He continued that the repository holds over 2km of records that shed light on the legal, economic, social, and cultural history of the Maltese islands.
“This project has seen the complete conservation of the entire work of 15 individual notaries, amounting to over 600 volumes. These included manuscripts that were heavily damaged during the Second World War,” explained Minister Bonnici.
Minister Jonathan Attard stated that the opening of this Notarial Registers Archive marks another memorable day in the rich history of the notarial profession of our country. “A profession that not only gave us an identity of who our predecessors were and the history of each and every Maltese and Gozitan person, but also a profession through which we learned a lot about the history of our country,” stated Minister Attard.
Minister Attard reiterated that such facilities pave the way for the Notarial Registers Archive to establish itself as an international benchmark for archival research, preservation and conservation of paper. It is also proof of the Government’s commitment both towards the Maltese Heritage and towards the need to safeguard the notarial legal history.
Parliamentary Secretary Chris Bonett explained “Through this project we are not only preserving our past but have also given access to the present generation by preserving these valuable documents that offer centuries-old heritage of knowledge. This investment will not only stimulate academic curiosity but also pave the way for future cultural and historical discoveries.”
Through this investment, the two palazzi at 24, St Christopher Street, and 217, St Paul Street were rehabilitated and transformed into a multidisciplinary centre for historical and scientific investigation. The palazzo at St Christopher Street houses the manuscript collection within a fully climate-controlled environment, the first of its kind for the Maltese islands. The palazzo at St Paul Street will be receiving the general public, visitors, and researchers in spaces such as the NRA Museum, the Reading Room, and the volunteers’ space, apart from its Conservation laboratory.
The entire collection of notarial documents is undergoing a disinfestation process prior to its return to the Archive repository.
The NRA Museum will showcase highlights of the collection in the form of rotating exhibitions. Items on display include Pietro Caxaro’s Kantilena, Domenico Vigliarolo’s 16th century portolan chart, and the George Cross document. The Museum is an innovative educational experience and a tool for the exploration of Maltese and Mediterranean history.