About The Giuseppe Whitaker Museum
A genuine polymath, English-Sicilian Joseph Whitaker was a renowned ornithologist whose collection of Tunisian birds can be found in the Natural History Museum. He also founded Sicilian Serie A football club Palermo. His greatest legacy however is, as an amateur but highly-skilled archaeologist, a world-class collection of Phoenician artefacts now on display at the eponymous Giuseppe Whitaker Museum on San Pantaleo island, just off the western coast of Sicily.
The Whitaker Collection is filled with an incredible array of Phoenician artefacts from the ancient island city of Motya (renamed San Pantaleo in the 11th century). Joseph Whitaker bought the island in 1902, began years of excavating and in the process, rediscovering Motya’s rich history.
Among many of the best preserved Phoenician artefacts in the world are inscribed stelae and masks, pottery, offerings from the ancient necropolis of Motya, amphorae, tombs, lamps and beautiful ex-votos, objects left as offerings as fulfilments 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 none other than Judith Swaddling, curator of 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!