Must-Visit Museums in Sri Lanka
In a country with as many breathtaking natural features as Sri Lanka, one would wonder why you’d ever need to be indoors, especially at a museum. However, for a nation with a history as rich as Sri Lanka, museums provide a tangible link to the past. From witnessing the stunning artwork and monuments of ancient times, to rich exhibits displaying Sri Lanka’s maritime history, there’s much to be witnessed and learned in the museums around the country.
If you ever visit Sri Lanka and are eager to learn more about its history, and catch a glimpse of the roots of its vibrant cultural heritage, museums are the place to go. This blog will identify a few of the most popular museums to visit when in what is called the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.
National Museum of Colombo
Sri Lanka’s national, biggest, and most famous museum, is housed in a sprawling, colonial mansion located in the heart of Colombo. Containing historical artefacts from as early as thousands of years BC, to more macabre, modern displays (such as the clothing and regalia of ousted kings and queens), the museum is an eye-opening journey into the past.
Founded in 1877 by the Governor of Ceylon at the time, one of the most breathtaking attractions of the museum is the royal throne of the last king of Sri Lanka. With centuries of history etched upon it, one can’t help but stare in awe at the magnificent display, containing other items such as the royal sceptre and sword as well. Much more is in store for visitors who make this pitstop on their tour around the country; promising a whirlwind of sensations and experiences from the past.
Sri Dalada Museum, Kandy
Kandy, being the last kingdom held by native rulers before the country fell to British dominion, possesses more historical heritage than one would dare to believe. The Sri Dalada Museum centres around the nationally treasured tooth relic, an artefact holding a special place in the hearts of every Sri Lankan. Believed to belong to Lord Buddha, the relic is hosted in a temple that see flocks of pilgrims and visitors grace its hallowed halls every year.
The museum, on the other hand, contains the precious gifts brought before the relic by rulers of ancient times, as well as a number of other high-level officials and visitors in more recent times. Other displays include photographs and scripts all of which document the relic’s significance and role in the history of the country.
National Maritime Museum, Galle
A museum dedicated to the rich maritime history of of the country, the National Maritime Museum is an easy visit given its location in the tourist hotspot of Galle. Located in the idyllic fort within the city, the historical artefacts are stored in an ancient Dutch building, assimilating to the colonial architecture and flair of the fortress. Containing a range of displays concerning marine biology, including diagrams of local fishing methods, and those of deep sea marine biology and its environment, the museum is a must-visit for those who are seafarers at heart!
Despite being saved from the worst of the disastrous tsunami that struck in 2004, the UNESCO Maritime Archaeology unit that was housed next door was flooded and severely damaged. This resulted in the loss of all the exhibits displayed there.
Ceylon Tea Museum
Given Sri Lanka’s unshakeable status as a global leader in tea manufacturing, it comes as no surprise that there is a whole museum dedicated to this fine art. Set up as a joint project by the Sri Lanka Tea Board and the Planters’ Association of Sri Lanka, visitors here can take a look at ancient machinery used in the manufacturing process, an old library and even have a cup of authentic Sri Lankan tea on its top floor. You can also catch panoramic sights of the majestic hills of the region through a telescope mounted on the upper level of the museum. Perfect afternoon much?