The National Museum of Maldives is an ancient building containing a well-maintained collection of artefacts that help in tracing unusual historical events of this archipelago. It aims at instilling patriotic feelings in the citizens of Maldives. The museum has a massive assemblage of royal antiquities ranging from the Buddhist and Islamic era making it a paradise for the lovers of history and crafts. From various costumes and ornaments of the former kings and the queens, cloth and paper manuscripts, and anthropological objects to arms and armour, you will find everything under one roof. The gamut of artefacts is a reflection of the country's treasured heritage. Located in Sultan Park, which once was a part of Sultan's Palace, the National Museum in Maldives is an epitome of knowledge. Your travelling to the Maldives is incomplete until you visit this heritage place that speaks high of the great Maldivian History.
History of National Museum
Established on the Maldives' National Day, this is the country's first national museum which was opened by the Prime Minister Mohamed Amin Didi on 11 November 1952. Previously it was administered by the Maldivian Centre for Linguistic and Historical Research. However, President Mohamed Nasheed abolished this institution on April 28, 2010, and hence Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture took charge of the museum's responsibilities along with Maldives College of Higher Education looking after the linguistic and historical research part.
The National Museum of Maldives has witnessed damage of its most precious pieces in history. It was in 2012 when the riots broke out during the protests against the then president Nasheed that some parts of the museum building and 30 Buddhist Coral Stone Carvings from the Maldivian pre-Islamic period were tarnished. Despite being prey to this mob of religious extremists in the past, the museum still stands strong preserving some precious gems of history.
Architecture of National Museum in Maldives
The grand museum is divided into two buildings, the old building and the new building. The three-storied old building is situated in Sultan Park, Male. It is a part of the site of the Maldives' Royal Palace compound which dates back to the 17th century. After the palace fire of 1968, the two-storey Us-g?kolhu continues to be the only remaining structure of the magnificent palace. The interiors of the museum are from the Sultanate days. They include the handwritten Quran carved on the walls of the museum.
Coming to the new building, it also finds itself in Sultan Park. The Chinese Government financed, designed and built this building. On 10 July 2010, the Chinese Government presented this new building to the Maldives. It was officially declared open on 26 July 2010 which is Maldives' Independence Day.
Collections in National Museum of Maldives
The museum stores authentic collection of relics from the bygone Pre-Islamic era, royal sunshades, furniture, thrones, coins, ornaments, armour, costumes and footwear. Some artefacts include textiles such as turbans, ceremonial dresses, belts and fancy slippers for special occasions, creatively embroidered mats and other similar things.
The ground floor of the National Museum consists of galleries devoted to the medieval and ancient periods of the history of the Maldives. The items on display are of weaponry, household wares, religious paraphernalia, and impressively engraved Arabic and Thanna wood pieces which commemorate the Maldives' conversion into Islam in 1153.
The upper part of the museum represents the modern period. It includes the prized lacquer workboxes and several pieces of country's oldest technology such as gramophone, a large computer, and a telephone. Some quirky relics comprise of the minutes of an underwater cabinet meeting which took place in 2009 under the President Nasheed and a huge marine collection, the highlight of which is a 6km long skeleton of Longman's Beaked Whale which is still to be found alive in the ocean.