Museums in Sri Lanka Every History Buff Should Visit

Art & Culture Sightseeing

Museums in Sri Lanka

A lot of history in Sri Lanka is preserved categorically in its museums. With around 16 museums in various parts of the country, the museums in Sri Lanka showcase a variety of things from historical documents, arts, masks, anthropological artefacts, traditional objects, old aircrafts and so on. Make sure you visit at least a few of these museums to get a clear idea of Sri Lanka in its entirety.

Here is the list of 16 Museums in Sri Lanka Every History Buff Should Visit

1. National Museum of Colombo, Colombo

4.3 /5

This museum in Sri Lanka takes one through the history of the country with it's collections on arts and humanities, natural sciences and documents. The National Museum of Colombo is the largest museum in the country. Established back in 1877, the museum holds collections of utmost importance to Sri Lankan history and culture. The objects on display are very diverse.

2. National Museum of Kandy, Kandy

Sri Lankan history and heritage, which has come a long way over the decades, is rightly preserved in the National Museum in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Formerly known as Palle Vahala, the museum earlier used to serve as accommodation for royal guests.

3. National Museum of Galle

One of the oldest Dutch buildings in the Galle Fort, the National Museum of Galle was built in 1656 as a commissariat store. The museum houses collections from the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods. Consisting of three galleries in total, the first one containing old local artworks, the second one has artefacts from the Dutch periods and the third with evidence of a trade relationship between China and Sri Lanka.

Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry Fee: LKR 300 and LKR 150 for foreign adult and child visitors, respectively.
LKR 20 and LKR 10 for locals.

4. National Museum of Ratnapura

Formerly belonging to a citizen named Ehelepola Nilame who was a courtier in the Kingdom of Kandy, the National Museum of Ratnapura also called Ehelepola Walauwa houses collections of archaeological inventions, natural history, geological, anthropological artefacts and even a sword that is believed to have belonged to Ehelepola. The objects also include Sinhalese and World War 1 weaponry with some old local jewellery and artefacts. A Paleo-biodiversity park was also established in the museum grounds with life-sized sculptures of animals which are believed to have existed in the area.

Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry Fee: LKR 500 and LKR 300 for foreign adult and child visitors, respectively.
LKR 30 and LKR 20 for the locals.

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5. National Museum of Natural History, Colombo

Covering the natural heritage of Sri Lanka, the National Museum of Natural History is located near to the National Museum of Colombo and is one of the only museums in the country to showcase collections of natural history and heritage. With over 5000 species and specimens of all kinds of animals endemic to Sri Lanka showcased, the collection also includes some rare and extinct animals.

Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry Fees: LKR 1200 and LKR 600 for foreign adult and child visitors, respectively.
LKR 100 and LKR 50 for the locals.

6. Colombo Dutch Museum, Colombo

3.6 /5

This historic two-story museum in Sri Lanka displays objects and artefacts relating to the Dutch colonial rule. Though the museum was established as late as 1982, the building was actually built back in the 1690s by Thomas van Rhee, who was then Governor, as his residence.

7. National Maritime Museum, Galle

Initially opened in 9 May 1962, National Maritime Museum in Sri Lanka was a two-storeyed building in the Galle Fort. During the 2004 tsunami, the Museum was destroyed and was reopned in 2010 after reconstruction. It showcases objects from the underwater such as corals and other things along with maps, ropes, sailor shoes and so on.

8. Independence Memorial Museum

Located in the basement of the Independence Memorial Hall in the Independence Square, the Independence Memorial Museum in Sri Lanka was established to honour the country's heroes who were instrumental in helping Sri Lanka gain its freedom from the British forces. The museum has collections of busts, portraits of political leaders, patriots and men, each with their stories written next to it.

Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry Fees: LKR 300 and LKR 150 for foreign adult and child visitors, respectively.
LKR 10 and LKR 5 for the locals.

9. Anuradhapura Folk Museum

Exhibiting objects that were used by the local communities, Anuradhapura Folk Museum in Sri Lanka reflects the lifestyle and lives of rural villagers and their eventual transition to modern-day styles. Situated near the Anuradhapura Archaeological Museum, it holds collections of mainly traditional objects like kitchen utensils, medical equipment, cultivation tools, musical instruments and more.

Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry Fees: LKR 300 and LKR 150 for foreign adult and child visitors, respectively.
LKR 20 and LKR 10 for the locals.

10. Archaeological Museum, Anuradhapura, Anuradhapura

3.7 /5

Established in 1947 under the patronage of well known Sri Lankan archaeologist Dr Senarath Paranavithana, the Anuradhapura Archaeological Museum houses collections from various parts of Sri Lanka which includes Buddha statues, inscriptions, drawings, coins, jewellery and more. Situated in Anuradhapura in the old Kachcheri building, the museum is said to be one of the oldest in the Cultural Triangle area.

Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry Fees: LKR 300 and LKR 150 for foreign adult and child visitors, respectively.
LKR 20 and LKR 10 for the locals.

11. Mask Museum, Ambalangoda

Ambalangoda is a town known for its masks, to reiterate the tradition and its rich heritage, the Mask Museum in Sri Lanka was established to strengthen the culture. Some of the costumes here are acclaimed for their intricate designs and patterns with some of them even dating back 20-30 years ago. The museum has a small library and a factory adjacent to it which serves as research fodder for people looking to learn more about the craft.

Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry Fees: Free

12. Sri Lanka Air Force Museum

Established under the patronage of former Air Force Commander, Air Chief Marshal Harry Goonatilake, the Air Force Museum exhibits old aircraft and types of equipment that were in use by the Sri Lankan Air Force. It is the only National Museum in Sri Lanka that is solely dedicated to aviation and even has collections from World War 2 in its hangars.

Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry Fees: Sri Lankan Adult - LKR 120              
Sri Lankan Child - LKR 30         
Foreigners - USD 15              
Foreigner Kids - USD 10

13. National Railway Museum

Housing collections of old engines, locomotives, trolleys, carriages and everything railways, the National Railway Museum was established to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Sri Lankan Railways. Located in Kadugannawa, the museum is owned and operated by Sri Lankan Railways.

Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry Fees: LKR 10.00 to children with school uniforms, LKR 20.00 to children without school uniforms, LKR 50.00 to adults and LKR 500.00 to foreign citizens.

14. Ceylon Tea Museum, Kandy

Among the many names given to this island country like Lanka, Lakdiva, Serendib, Sri Lanka was also named Ceylon - during British Colonialism - reminding us of the famous Ceylon tea that origins in Sri Lanka. Situated at Hantana, 3 KM away from main Kandy city, Ceylon Tea Museum was structured in 1925 as the former Hantana Tea factory. Later in 1998, this tea factory was converted into the famous Ceylon Tea Museum.

15. Community Tsunami Museum

Located in Galle, Community Tsunami Museum is oriented towards educating indivudals regarding Tsunami and preparing them under such situations. It also aims at preserving the memories of the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004.

16. Ape Gama

Ape Gama, which means 'Our Village' reimagines how village life would look like in the old days functioning as a heritage museum. Ape Gama is complete with old mud houses, traditional handiwork and industries, a bird-watching zone and a mini zoo. Visitors have the advantage of interacting with people and learning more about Sri Lankan culture and heritage. 

Timings: 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Entry Fees: LKR 100

These museums in Sri Lanka come really handy for cultural enthusiasts, historians, anthropologists and curious travellers to better picture the history, conditions and memory of Sri Lanka!

This post was published by Muhammed Salih

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