Leading the Digital Transformationof Heritage Malta

Noel Zammit, CEO of Heritage Malta

By Shereen Shabnam

Noel Zammit, the CEO of Heritage Malta, has had a remarkable journey within the organization. Starting his career as a software engineer, Zammit joined the Center for Restoration in 2010, which later merged with Heritage Malta. Initially responsible for the IT department, he saw immense potential in utilizing technology to enhance Malta’s cultural heritage sector.

This realization motivated him to advance his career within Heritage Malta, eventually rising through the ranks to become the CEO in 2017. Zammit’s passion for cultural heritage stems from his work in the IT sector, where he observed the lack of technological advancements in preserving and promoting Malta’s rich history.

He recognized the importance of protecting the nation’s identity and felt a deep sense of pride in undertaking this noble mission. Heritage Malta’s mandate to safeguard the country’s heritage resonated with Zammit, driving him to dedicate almost 20 years to the agency.

Throughout his tenure, Zammit has spearheaded numerous projects that highlight Heritage Malta’s commitment to conservation and restoration. The ongoing restoration of the Grand Masters Palace and the Malta Maritime Museum are two key endeavors that demonstrate the agency’s dedication to preserving important historical landmarks. The Grand Masters Palace, a project costing approximately ¤30-35 million, will open its first phase later this year, while the revitalized Malta Maritime Museum will showcase the maritime history of the island.

However, Zammit’s achievements extend beyond physical restorations. He takes great pride in the restructuring of Heritage Malta, transforming it from a reactive and underfunded organization into a proactive agency.

This transformation includes the establishment of specialized units such as the Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit and the Digitization Unit. Moreover, the agency has adopted a new ethos focused on inclusivity, inviting everyone to be part of the mission to protect Malta’s cultural heritage.

Engaging with local communities and stakeholders is a vital aspect of Heritage Malta’s work. Zammit and his team have launched initiatives such as the Heritage Malta passport scheme, providing free unlimited access to all museums and sites for students, parents, senior citizens, and residents of Malta. This program has successfully opened doors to previously skeptical individuals, fostering engagement and building value within the local community. Heritage Malta also collaborates with various local associations, councils, and heritage organizations, ensuring their involvement and contribution to the agency’s goals.

Internationally, Zammit and his team have actively pursued partnerships and collaborations. Heritage Malta’s brand has become well-known beyond the shores of Malta, facilitating connections and collaborations with museums and institutions worldwide. They engage in cultural diplomacy, working closely with embassies and foreign offices to establish connections and promote mutual understanding.

Through exhibitions, research exchanges, and joint projects, Heritage Malta continues to expand its international network and raise its profile on the global stage.
Looking to the future, Zammit envisions Heritage Malta as an organization that continually evolves to meet the needs of its diverse audience. He emphasizes the importance of visitor engagement and the need for museums to adopt a more visitor-centered approach.

Heritage Malta aims to create emotional connections with audiences by telling compelling stories and interpreting historical artifacts in the context of contemporary issues. The agency also recognizes the significance of engaging younger generations, utilizing digital media and adapting museum setups to cater to their preferences.

To the youth interested in working in the cultural heritage industry, Zammit offers valuable advice. He highlights the wide range of roles available, not limited to historians and archaeologists but open to individuals from various backgrounds such as scientists, architects, and engineers.

Heritage Malta actively collaborates with universities, offering relevant projects and opportunities for students across different faculties. Zammit believes that everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the noble mission of protecting and preserving Malta’s unique identity.

Under Noel Zammit’s leadership, Heritage Malta has undergone a profound transformation, leveraging technology and collaborations to propel the agency into the future.

With a strong focus on community engagement, visitor-centered approaches, and international partnerships, Heritage Malta continues to safeguard Malta’s cultural heritage and inspire audiences worldwide.

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