THE GIBRALTAR MUSEUM

The Gibraltar Museum was founded in 1930. Located in the City Centre in Bomb House Lane, the Museum houses an extensive and fascinating array of cultural and natural history collections, prints, paintings and drawings, and objects.

 

The museum is the showcase for the rich diversity of Gibraltar’s cultural heritage and social history, from its first known inhabitants, the Neanderthal people 127,000 years ago, to Phoenician and Carthaginian traders in the first millennium BCE leaving offerings to the gods in Gorham’s Cave, the Moorish conquest of 711 CE and 700 years of Moorish rule, the Spanish occupation and British period. It has informative displays on the geology, caves and landscape of Gibraltar which have influenced settlement, and on the wide-ranging, sometimes unique natural species.

The museum provides an educational service for local schools, and those from further afield, as well as giving guided tours of the displays and collections for local residents and tourists. Annual lecture series on Gibraltar topics are complemented by the hosting of an international conference every September.

In addition the museum is a centre for research, now also an associate campus of the new University of Gibraltar, specialising in life and earth sciences.  The museum’s experts include zoologists, marine biologists, land and marine archaeologists and conservation management staff. A 26-year investigation project exploring the archaeology of Gibraltar’s caves, notably Gorham’s and Vanguard Caves on the east side of the Rock, led to significant evidence for the occupation, material culture, abilities and behaviour of the Neanderthals and early Modern Humans between 127,000 and 13,000 years ago.

The sites are of such global importance in the story of human evolution that the Gorham’s Cave Complex has recently (15th July, 2016) been inscribed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.  The Gibraltar Museum now manages the World Heritage Site and has a small dedicated team to carry out those responsibilities.

The museum is the main interpretation hub for the World Heritage Site, but others are under construction as viewing platforms along Europa Advance Road. Part of the work for the World Heritage Site includes educational and experimental archaeology workshops at Parson’s Lodge, but also the Museum takes guided tours of the sea caves in the summer months and provides experts for boat trips to the caves.

The Museum Building

The site has been built on for the last 700 years, initially as part of the first urban development of Gibraltar. Parts of the building date back to the 14th century, when an impressive set of baths was constructed in what is thought to have been the palace of the Moorish Governor of Gibraltar. These Moorish baths, contemporary with the castle, are some of the finest remains of the period in the Iberian Peninsula. They have been fully excavated and restored, and are incorporated into the Museum’s displays. The baths are also protected by under the 1989 Gibraltar Heritage Trust Act.

Subsequent adaptations and rebuilding in the Spanish and British periods, notably after the Great Siege of 1779-83when the buildings were badly damaged, changed their nature. The buildings were often used as quarters for military staff, including stables, up until the founding of the present Museum in 1930.

The Museum’s Displays

The ground floor, basement rooms and garden have been updated recently, to allow for more extensive exhibitions and displays on the Neanderthals and the World Heritage Site, and on scientific exploration – Gibraltar’s contribution to scientific debate in the 18th and 19th centuries. The first floor galleries will be refurbished gradually over the next 12 months, and will include a dedicated education space.

 The current displays include:

·  ‘Nana and Flint’ –– accurate forensic reconstructions from the Gibraltar 1 and Gibraltar 2 skulls and other Neanderthal fossil remains. Nana and Flint represent Gibraltar’s first known inhabitants, the Neanderthals, bringing to life our closest extinct relatives


·  An archaeological excavation covering seven centuries of Gibraltar's history, a newly-discovered water system, and some of the natural history contemporary with the Neanderthals

·  The Moorish Baths and medieval Gibraltar. The baths consist of rooms similar to the Roman Hypocaust system of baths with room-temperature, cold and hot rooms. 

·  The Age of Exploration – 18th and 19th century scientific discoveries in Gibraltar including the two Neanderthal skulls, natural history and global collecting

·  The Gibraltarian - Rooms dedicated to Gibraltarian social history.

·  The Great Siege - Room dedicated to the Great Siege of Gibraltar (1779–1783). This was an unsuccessful attempt by Spain and France to capture Gibraltar from the British during the American War of Independence.

·  Rock model – an 8-metre long scale model of Gibraltar, with historical photographs of Gibraltar on surrounding walls.  The model was completed in 1868. 

·  Calpe Gallery - devoted to The Rock's Latin name, Calpe.  A 19th-century fox hunt and a Royal Navy Reserve unit.

For further information please contact:

The Gibraltar Museum

18/20 Bomb House Lane, P.O. Box 939.
Tel: (+ 350) 200 74289
Fax: (+ 350) 200 79158
E-mail: enquiries@museum.gib.gi
PR E-mail: museumpr@gibraltar.gi
Website: www.gib.gi/museum