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Project about the Royal Naval Hospital Bighi from the perspective of the community

Do you have any stories or memories to share about the Royal Naval Hospital, Bighi?

An artistic project is shining a light on the former Royal Naval Hospital (RNH) Bighi, in Kalkara, and throughout the months of October and November is inviting the community members to contribute to the research phase.

RNH Bighi through Communities’ Stories is an artistic-research project that is looking into the historical and architectural function of the former RNH Bighi, but, moreover, is interested in looking into its social and cultural relevance for the communities who have experienced the place. The site of the former hospital, which in the late 1970s also served as a school, currently houses Esplora – Malta’s Interactive Science Centre, among other organisations. The compounds of RNH Bighi, together with the outdoor areas, other than being a hub where Science Engagement takes place, are more than a mere container hosting a series of exhibits, shows, workshops, conferences, weddings, public and private functions. Bighi provides a space, and, moreover, a place with a rich and long history of day-to-day living, including personal stories and collective memory.

The current research phase will lead to the publication of a research report, a series of short video clips and a public talk by mid-2023. All this will be then used as groundwork for a creative production in the coming years.

The research team – led by community artist Kristina Borg, in collaboration with Esplora, heritage consultant Christian Mifsud, and filmmaker Matthew Calleja from Videocafe – is inviting community members to share their story or memory of RNH Bighi through a one-hour encounter.

The team is specifically interested in meeting people who have memories based on their personal or their relatives’ experience of Bighi, as former service staff, service wives who attended maternity classes in the post-war years, patients and/or visitors of the hospital, and former students who spent their school years in Bighi during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

All encounters will take place throughout the months of October and November, at Esplora in Kalkara. If an in-person encounter is not possible, alternative means are being offered, such as video or telephone calls.

This project is supported by Arts Council Malta and APS Bank


Esplora Interactive Science Centre

Esplora, Malta’s Interactive Science Centre is an informal educational and recreational facility suited to visitors of all age groups. Esplora is located at Villa Bighi in Kalkara overlooking Malta’s Grand Harbour. The building was formerly used as a hospital by the Royal Navy. It consists of a number of buildings and outdoor spaces which are all interconnected following extensive restoration and development.