Gibraltar Museum

Rock Of Gibraltar aerial view

The Museum has many rooms from which the locations listed above have been chosen. Exhibits include a wide range of objects, as well as models and dioramas. There are graphic presentations of scenes and events as seen through the eyes of artists. There are records, consisting of printed works, manuscripts, and thousands of photographs. The following is a general list of the exhibits which tourists can see:

  • MIDIEVAL MOORISH BATHS
  • ARCHAEOLOGY
  • NEANDERTHAL
  • BRONZE AGE
  • IRON AGE
  • MOORISH PERIOD
  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • MARINE LIFE GALLERY
  • MAMMALS AND BIRDS
  • BOTANY
  • INSECTS
  • MILITARY
  • THE GREAT SIEGE
  • GEOLOGY
  • TOPOGRAPHY
  • FIVE METRE LONG ROCK MODEL
  • LOCAL HISTORY
  • ART GALLERY
  • EGYPTIAN MUMMY
  • SHORT FILM ABOUT GIBRALTAR FROM ITS FORMATION TO ITS HISTORY AND PEOPLE

Gibraltar Museum website

History Of The Museum

Gibraltar’s Governor, General Sir Alexander Godley founded the museum in 1930. The building was converted from two officers quarters one of which was a house known as Bomb House, the former residence of the Principal Artillery Officer. The site was specifically chosen because below the building was an almost intact Moorish Bath, dating to the 14th century North African Merinid Dynasty which ruled in Gibraltar. In fact, the baths were in such an amazing state of preservation, that they were held to be the best in existence in Europe at the time.

The 18th century building on the site had been badly damaged during the Great Siege when on the evening of September 18, 1781 a shell fired from Spanish lines killed the Town-Major, Captain Burke.

The museum was opened on July 23, 1930. Originally there was no curator only a caretaker. The secretary of the museum committee acted as Honorary Curator, the first person to take on this double role was Leiut. Colonel H.B. Maskall. He was faced with the problem of collecting exhibits such as a collection of pottery from Ur of the Chaldees presented by the British Museum, some old masters by the Marquess of Bute, a collection of small arms loaned by Mr Greenwood and many miscellaneous items from other people. However the main attractions became the Moorish Baths, the model of the Rock and the Egyptian Mummy.

The Museum was closed for the duration of WW2 and reopened to the public in 1945 with Mr. M. McEwen as caretaker. The Chairman of the Committee was Rev. F.E. Brown (known to everybody as Padre Brown) who was succeeded by Sir Joshua Hassan in 1952, who was in turn succeeded by Mr. C. Gaggero in 1965. During this period Mr. A.D. Lacaille completed the excavation of the Baths.

On the death of Mr. McEwen in 1966, the Museum Committee decided to appoint a Gibraltarian as full-time Curator, and Mr. Joaquin Bensusan, a professional taxidermist who held diplomas from some well known institutions was appointed Curator and Archivist.

He embarked on the major update and renovation of the museum paying particular attention to the layout for visitors given the small size of the building and its rooms. Many of the old exhibits including the Bute art collection had been removed by their original owners. A massive task of redesigning display cases, frames and restoring neglected artefacts was undertaken. A greater number of exhibits of local interest were developed including the sea life and the flora and fauna displays.

Professor Clive Finlayson is Director of the Gibraltar Museum today. Qualifications include, Bachelor of Science, Special Honours Degree in Zoology. Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oxford. Master of Science in Museum Studies, University of Leicester.

He has had countles papers published in various journals and books and his research interests are;

Multi-scale spatio-temporal distribution patterns of animals, with special reference to birds. Current field research is carried out in Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar.

Distribution patterns at large spatial scales. Currently researching patterns across Afro-European continental and Mediterranean-Atlantic oceanic gradients.

Seasonal and inter-annual patterns of bird distribution in relation to climatic change and vegetation patterns in the Biological Reserve of the Coto Donana. This project is funded by the Great Installation Scheme of the EU and has been running since 1993.

Body size and the composition and structure of communities of vertebrates.

Changing environments and faunal patterns in southern Europe in the Quaternary.

The Neanderthal extinction.

Human Ecology. The integration of the human species within ecological research studies as a way of modelling ecological conservation.

Historical patterns and processes of the southern Iberian Peninsula and North Africa from the classical period to the medieval with specific reference to the role of the geography.

The Gibraltar Museum is involved in many projects both at home and further afield.

The research team, which works within the framework of the Gibraltar Centre for Mediterranean Studies of the Gibraltar Museum, consists of permanent museum staff and Honorary Fellows of the Centre who work in collaboration with the Museum. The main research fields are;

Ecology and Evolution of Quaternary Communities. Working in sites such as Gorham’s Cave and developing mathematical models and simulations the thrust of this research is the reconstruction of plant and animal communities during the last two million years. The emphasis is on Mediterranean biota although wider geographical studies are being undertaken.

Neanderthal and Modern Human Behavioural Ecology. Studies of the ecology and behaviour of late Pleistocene humans in Gibraltar. Modelling of geographical distribution patterns and their relationship with climatic change.

Neolithic Human and other Mammal Populations. This project investigates the human occupation of Gibraltar in the Neolithic with particular emphasis on the changing use of animal and plant resources and its relationship with climate change.

Phoenician and Carthaginian Archaeology. The sanctuary at Gorham’s Cave, which was utilised between the 8th and 3rd Centuries BC, is the subject of an annual excavation which aims at studying the significance of the Rock of Gibraltar to these ancient mariners.

Underwater Research. The Gibraltar Museum Underwater Research Unit is active on a number of fronts and works in collaboration with the Joint Services Sub-Aqua Diving Club BS-AC 317S (JSSDC). The Unit supports the research being carried out by the Gibraltar Caves’ Project. It has recently introduced the Diving with a Purpose project of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) which is aimed at encouraging divers and non-divers to record sites around the coast of the UK, in Gibraltar for the benefit of Gibraltar’s maritime heritage, which includes the Adopt-a-Wreck Scheme. As a result of this initiative, a local wreck, until recently known as the ‘Inner and Outer’ has been declared the first Adopted Wreck outside the United Kingdom. It is also involved in a project with the Oxford University MARE team and the Gibraltar Sub-Aqua Club studying an eighteenth/nineteenth century cannon deposit at 30 metres depth in the Bay of Gibraltar which may represent the remains of a Spanish Floating Battery of the Great Siege (1779-83).

Medieval Archaeology. Through excavations within the City of Gibraltar the structure of the first urban community of Gibraltar and of its fortifications is being mapped.

Distribution Patterns of Birds and their Relationship to Climatic and Vegetation Variables. This is a long term study which examines distribution patterns across the southern Iberian Peninsula, from western Portugal to south-eastern Spain.

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