The Director of Malta’s newest visitor attraction, Esplora, takes us on an exclusive tour
With year-round sunshine, myriad museums and ancient sights, Malta has a lot to offer families. The island’s newest attraction, Esplora Interactive Science Centre, stands out with a unique interactive concept, encouraging people of all ages to get hands-on with science. The institution, which officially opened in late 2016, is a breath of fresh air in Malta’s historically-heavy museum landscape. Rachael Blackburn, Esplora Director, has the inside scoop on what makes it the ideal attraction for families travelling with children of all ages.
Esplora is the newest visitor attraction to open in Malta. What makes the museum so unique?
Esplora Interactive Science Centre is the first of its kind in Malta, featuring over 200 hands-on, interactive exhibits about various scientific topics. The centre consists of several exhibition halls, a Planetarium, an Outdoor Adventure Experience and landscaped gardens, and an Activity Centre for visitors to experience hands-on workshops and entertaining science shows, making science relevant to our everyday lives.
Why was it important for you to create a centre where children and families could get involved with science in such an interactive way?
Our goal at Esplora is to cultivate a culture of scientific curiosity and imagination by igniting a passion for questioning and investigation, where visitors are encouraged to explore, think and imagine. The Centre presents science in a fun and accessible manner through a programme of workshops and live science shows. At Esplora, visitors are encouraged to interact with the exhibits, unlike a traditional museum where items tend to be displayed in glass cases and visitors are asked not to touch.
Please tell us about the exhibitions at Esplora.
The exhibits show how science is relevant to our daily lives, and gives insight into how things actually work. There are exhibits related to planet Earth, the human body, electricity, music, illusions, and much more. Each exhibit has been constructed to be handled directly by visitors of all ages. Everyone is encouraged to touch, feel and use the exhibits in a hands-on, body-on, mind-on approach. By offering visitors an opportunity to discover and understand science in this way, the importance of the scientific processes is communicated through questioning, predicting, experimenting, analysing and making conclusions.
Can you give us examples of some of the most exciting activities?
Visitors have the opportunity of interacting with hands-on science such as launching a hot-air balloon or following the journey of food through the digestive system. Could you imagine playing a harp without strings, or producing fireworks? At Esplora you can! Esplora also has a Colorspace 4K theatre Planetarium, 10.7 metre in diameter, which hosts entertaining and educational films related to our planet and space, the Solar System and the Universe.
What has the response to the museum been so far?
We have been open for six months and have welcomed over 70,000 visitors. There is no other attraction comparable to Esplora on the island and many families have visited us several times, returning each time to experience something different. We find that Esplora is popular with families as we offer plenty to do indoors and out for all ages and interests. Many families also have lunch at the EsploraCafe and enjoy a full day out.