The Giuseppe Whitaker Museum | Attraction Guides | History Hit

The Giuseppe Whitaker Museum

Marsala, Isola San Pantaleo, Italy

Lily Johnson

21 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Giuseppe Whitaker Museum

On the tiny Mozia island off the western coast of Sicily is the Giuseppe Whitaker Museum, which houses a magnificent collection of Phoenician artefacts collected by amateur archaeologist Joseph ‘Giuseppe’ Whitaker.

The Giuseppe Whitaker Museum history

A genuine polymath, English-Sicilian Joseph Whitaker was a renowned ornithologist, whose collection of Tunisian birds can be found in the Natural History Museum.

His greatest legacy however, is as an amateur but highly-skilled archaeologist. In 1902, he bought the island of San Pantaleo just off the western coast of Sicily, and began years of excavation. In the process, he rediscovered the rich history of the ancient city of Motya.

The world-class collection of Phoenician artefacts he found is now on display at the eponymous Giuseppe Whitaker Museum, housed in the villa Whitaker himself lived in. The artefacts hail from Motya (renamed San Pantaleo in the 11th century and now known as Mozia), and an antiquarian bookshop may also be found at the site.

The Giuseppe Whitaker Museum today

Some of the best preserved Phoenician artefacts in the world, the Whitaker Collection includes inscribed stelae and masks, pottery, offerings from the ancient necropolis of Motya, amphorae, tombs, lamps, and beautiful ex-votos. These were objects left as offerings as fulfillments of vows or in gratitude for the recovery of an injury or illness.

The jewel in the crown of the museum is without doubt an extremely rare 2,500-year-old classical Greek statue named the Motya Charioteer. The masterpiece was described by Judith Swaddling, a Senior Curator at the British Museum, as ‘the most tantalising sculpture in the entire world’ and it has even moved some visitors literally to tears by its beauty.

If you have even a passing interest in Phoenician history, the Giuseppe Whitaker Museum should be close to the top of your bucket list!

Getting to the Guiseppe Whitaker Museum

The museum is located on the island of Mozia just off the western coast of Sicily, and can be reached by boat from the ‘Mozia’ pier on the mainland at the Saline Infersa. This is just off the SP21 road, and both the Mozia-Birgi and Spagnuola train stations are a 40-minute walk away.

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