At Castel Grande, the exhibition "Malta. History and science in fragments"


Institutional Communication Service

27 May 2024

The exhibition "Malta. History and Science in Fragments" was inaugurated on Friday at Castel Grande in Bellinzona. Open to the public from the following day and daily until 3 November 2024, the exhibition is the result of a successful collaboration between the UNESCO Chair at Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) - dedicated to digital media, heritage and sustainable tourism -, Istituto Materiali e costruzioni, Conservation and Restoration Sector (SUPSI) and the Pro Kloster St. Johann Foundation in Müstair. The exhibition will enable visitors to virtually travel back almost a thousand years and explore how medieval craftsmen, despite having limited resources, were able to create enduring masterpieces. One of these is the Convent of St. John in Müstair, located in the canton of Graubünden, which has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1983.

Over the course of more than 50 years, excavations in Müstair have yielded thousands of mortar fragments, providing valuable insight into the work and art of medieval craftsmen in Switzerland and Europe. The opening ceremony, attended by Mario Branda, Mayor of Bellinzona, and Marina Carobbio Guscetti, State Councillor and Director of the Department of Education, Culture and Sport (DECS), highlighted the two main objectives of the exhibition: to raise awareness about the value of our cultural heritage and to engage the general public in disciplines such as archaeology, geology, and materials science. The exhibition, part of a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, connects the communication of science with the enhancement of cultural heritage through a seamless blend of storytelling, interactive materials, and multimedia installations. At Castel Grande, visitors can trace the transformation of a seemingly ordinary piece of mortar, made from river sand and lime, into the foundation of magnificent works of art. Guests are encouraged to engage with ongoing research that delves into the scientific processes underlying historical, geological, and construction techniques.

The Bellinzona Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, provides an exceptional backdrop for a tale that emphasises the longstanding connection between two Swiss cultural heritage sites. The exhibition, on display from June 2023 to April 2024 in the Convent of Müstair and currently exhibited in Castel Grande until 3 November, is made possible through the support of the City of Bellinzona. This exhibition is the outcome of a collaboration between Università della Svizzera italiana, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, and the Pro Kloster St. Johann Foundation in Müstair. This partnership highlights the necessity of joining forces to communicate scientific findings effectively. Effective science communication requires both the object of communication—in this case, the results of the analysis of the Convent's mortars—and knowledge of communication disciplines, as well as the ability to tailor the message to the target audience. Additionally, thanks to the collaboration with Associazione Archeologica Ticinese (Ticino Archaeological Association) - AAT, the exhibition will feature in-person meetings with researchers available to answer public questions, guided tours, and workshops organised by the AAT for secondary and high school students.

More information can be found at or by contacting [email protected].