National Museum of Colombo

Weather :

Timings : 9:00 PM - 6:00 PM,
Last entrance: 5:00 PM

Entry Fee : 200 LKR per person, 100 LKR for children for locals; 1000 LKR for foreigners.

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National Museum of Colombo, Colombo Overview

The National Museum of Colombo is a two-storey building which is the largest museum in Sri Lanka. It dates back to 1877 and has a colonial vibe with a rich history covering 2500 years. The founder of the museum was William Henry Gregory, British Governor of Ceylon from 1872–1877. The building’s artworks have an essence of the Dutch, Portuguese and British Colonial times, along with the display of significant ancient and local artefacts, farming methods, tools and traditional craft. The museum’s construction is very well planned out and easy to navigate through the corridor and the guards guide you to the various galleries. It has three main sections, including natural science, cultural galleries and a gift shop. It houses plenty of items of the ancient and colonial period so you will need at least 2-3 hours for the tour.

One can see things like the throne and crown of the Kandyan monarchs. The ground floor takes you through the ancient history of Sri Lanka, in successive galleries from prehistory to the periods of ancient cities like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Kandy. The top floor has 13 galleries displaying paintings, weapons section where one can see the influences of ancient Greek Kopis and Indonesian Pistol grip daggers, textiles, pottery, coins, banners, art & craft, agriculture and mask displays. 

There is a captivating bronze gilt Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. Regional archaeology, literature and other arts, along with collections of zoology, botany, geology and such natural sciences are included in the museum. One can learn a lot about Ceylon with the displayed artefacts. 

An old burner that used hydraulic principles and Sri Lankans producing steel in the iron age will surely make you praise the technology in the era. Statues, inscriptions, and age-old documents relating to the history of the country are showcased as well along with pottery, jewellery and currency from places as far away as ancient Greece, Rome, China and old Arabia. 

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Things To Do

There is The Laksala Government Gift Shop which has many Sri Lankan artworks and copies of some displays in the museum which you can take back as a souvenir at a reasonable rate.

After visiting the museums, you can take a walk or rest in the pleasant Victoria Park nearby.


Open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM except for any public holidays.

Entry Fees

The entry fee is 200 LKR per person, 100 LKR for children for locals and 1000 LKR for foreigners.

Food at National Museum of Colombo

The museum has a lovely coffee house which offers you various snacks in case you are hungry after a tour of the museum. Enjoy some good coffee and food in the breezy open courtyard.


The second floor is closed off half an hour before the museum closes, so make sure you get there on time.

Bring a guidebook that will give you some context for what you will see.

Allow at least 90 minutes as there is so much to see.

Carry a water bottle 

One can’t re-enter on the same ticket.

Purchase a permission card for 300 LKR which allows you to take photos inside the museum.

If you are interested in flora and fauna of Sri Lanka, you can buy the tickets for the National Museum of Natural History and the main museum at that same time.

Wear comfortable shoes and light clothes as the museum is massive to go around and there is no air conditioning.

Parking is allowed only in the parking area near the coffee shop.

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