With a rich heritage of thousands of years, colored with the majesty of each era, the island nation known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean boasts a wealth of richness and splendor second to none. The historic and cultural treasures of the land are well preserved in the museums in Sri Lanka. Most of the museums in Sri Lanka are themed and focus on a particular kingdom, reign, era, resources, or religious artifacts among others.
The National Museum
The Sri Lanka National Museum situated in a fine Colonial building in Colombo is the largest and oldest of museums in Sri Lanka . Displayed in this museum established in 1877 are a splendid collection of ancient royal regalia, ola manuscripts, antique furniture, temple frescoes, sculptures and lithic inscriptions among many others. The Sri Lanka National Museum is usually open to the public from 09.00 hrs to 17.00 hrs except on Fridays. Within the precincts of the Sri Lanka National Museum is also the National Museum of Natural History, portraying the phenomenal natural heritage of the land including birds, insects, mammals, reptiles, flora and fauna and even some of the gems and geological treasures.
Galle Maritime Museum
Situated in one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Galle Maritime Museum is indeed one of the finest amongst museums in Sri Lanka . Housed in a regal old Dutch building within the fort, the Galle Maritime Museum displays phenomena connected with marine biology and botany with an emphasis also on traditional secrets of local fishing, coral beds and deep sea fishes among many others. The Galle Maritime Museum too is usually open every day from 09.00 hrs to 17.00 hrs.
Kandy National Museum
Located in the palace once dwelt in by queens, the Kandy National Museum displays ancient regalia from the Kandy kingdom in the last few centuries prior to British rule, including arms and weapons, jewellery, ivory carvings and ritual objects of the era. The Ratnapura National Museum housed in the Ehelepola Walawwa boasts a collection of pre-historic fossils of elephants, rhinoceros and hippopotamus collected from the gem pits in the ‘city of gems’. Portraying the history and life of the people of Galle, the Galle National Museum too is one of the finest of museums in Sri Lanka and displays handicrafts, embroidery, horn and shell objects among others.
For those looking beyond the traditional museums, Sri Lanka offers some diverse and offbeat options like the Central Bank Currency Museum showcasing currency from the 3rd century to ancient kingdoms, colonial-era and modern-day as well. Another interesting museum in Colombo is the National Postal Museum, offering insight into the history of postal services in Sri Lanka with a carefully curated collection of material, tools, and machinery used over time. The recently opened Cricket Museum and Sri Lanka’s first underwater museum are also worth checking during your travels.
A rare and exquisite collection of folk implements from all parts of the island are housed at the Koggala Folk Museum and range from handicrafts, cottage industries, medicine, costumes, religion etc demonstrating life as it were.
Among some of the finest of themed museums in Sri Lanka are the Sri Dalada Museum in Kandy, the Sigiriya Museum and the Tea Museum at Hantane, each offering visitors an unparalleled experience.