‘The Land of Serendipity’, Sri Lanka is one of the most sought after holiday destination in the Indian Ocean region. A former colony of the Dutch and the British, the tiny island country is known for its rich history and vibrant culture. Not surprisingly, Sri Lanka is home to several museums and other sites for tourists to travel back in time and discover the true colours of the island. For those interested, here is a list of famous museums in Sri Lanka.


Image Credits: Dan arndt, Hasindu2008

National Museum of Ratnapura

Popular known as ‘Ehelepola Walauwa’, the National Museum of Ratnapura is one of the prominent national museums of Sri Lanka. A former residence to the last Governor of Ratnapura, the preservatory is known for exhibiting several archaeological objects, zoological artefacts and models dating back to the early 19th century. The mighty swords used by the Sinhala rulers and a collection of old guns used during the First World War (1914-1918) are also displayed at the museum.

National Museum of Galle

Located in the oldest Dutch building, National Museum of Galle is one of the famous national museums of Sri Lanka. Built in 1659 by the colonial powers, the popular preservatory is known for featuring a range of archaeological and anthropological objects from the early 16th century. Ancient wooden carving, ornaments made of turtle shells and Beeralu lace weaving used by the early settlers are among the popular collectables displayed at the museum. Objects and weapons dating back to the pre-Independence period are a must see at the museum.

National Museum of Colombo

Also known as ‘Sri Lanka National Museum’, National Museum of Colombo is the largest preservatory on the island. Constructed in 1877, the famous preservatory is known for featuring a wide range of artefacts, objects and items dating back to the early 17th century. Popular collectables at the museum include remains of printed books, government publications, periodicals, directories, maps, drawings, stamps and postcards. Inscriptions on palm leaves and some incomplete law reports are also exhibited at the museum.

Hoods Tower Museum

Located at Ostenburg, Hoods Tower Museum is a famous naval museum. A former naval base, the site was officially converted into a museum in the early 1990s. Presently, the museum is home to several artefacts along with other collectables and weapons used by the navy. The captured Sea Tiger attack craft and suicide craft are among the famous attractions at the museum. Certain weapons used by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) during their early struggle are also on display at the preservatory.

Colombo Port Maritime Museum

Located adjacent to the port, Colombo Port Maritime Museum is another famous museum in Sri Lanka. A former Dutch prison, the museum was constructed in 1676 by the colonial rulers. The only surviving Dutch building in the port area, Colombo Maritime Museum is known for exhibiting a wide range of artefacts and objects of historical significance. Sculptures of King Vijeya and models of ships used during wars are among the popular exhibits at the museum.

Anuradhapura Museum

Also known as Puravidu Bhavana, Anuradhapura Museum is one of the ancient museums in Sri Lanka. Nestled between the Brazon Palace and Ruwanwelisaya, the museum was constructed in 1947 under the leadership of the famous archaeologist and epigraphist, Dr. Senarath Paranavithana. Buddha statues, historical inscriptions, coins, jewellery, paintings and drawings are among the popular attractions here.

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