The department of national museums maintain ten museums devoted to the study and display of objects of cultural artistic and scientific interest pertaining tosrilanka’s pre-history,archaeology,anthropology,zoology,entomology,geology and palaeontology.museum publications are on sale at all national museums.
Colombo National Museum
The oldest and largest museum in the country, established 1877.best known for collection of antiques and objects of art. the library of the museum has more than 4,000 palm leaf manuscripts. among the exhibits are the regalia of the king of kandy, ancient and medieval jewellery, rare collection of traditional masks; wood and ivory carvings; an exquisite collection of Buddhist and hindu bronzes, temple frescoes; ceramics objects including VOC plates of the dutch period; antique furniture; lacquered objects; ornate brass, bronze and silver objects; stone sculpture and lithic inscriptions. The recently refurbished and revamped Anuradhapura and polonnaruwa galleries are will worth a visit
For the visitor on a short tour,unable to visit the ancient cities of srilanka,a visit to the colombo museum will give an idea of the history of the country and its people..
Natural History Museum
(closed on Fridays)
Natural history museum is located in the same premises as the national museum facing the anandacoomaraswamymawatha. it’s display contains birds, mammals, reptiles, sea-mammals, insects, botanical and also gems and geological specimens of srilanka.
Dutch Period Museum,Pettah colombo
(closed on Sunday/Monday) situated at no.95,princestreet,pettah.the building housing the museum dates back to the 17 th century and has been restored with the assistance from Netherlands.the displays depict the political, social and economic conditions in the maritime provinces of the island under the dutch rule and it gives an idea of the culture of the kandyan kingdom during this period.
Jayawardane cultural centre
Archives and library situated at 191,dharmapalamawatha,colombo 07,houses many valuable books inherited as ‘family treasure’ by late president j.r.jayawardane and priceless gifts received by him from many heads of state during his distinguished career.
Kandy National Museum
(closed on Fridays and Saturdays)
This museum is housed in the old palace devoted to queens.it is located behind the temple of the tooth relic. collections are all of kandyan period(17 th-19 th centuries)and include jewellery, textiles and clothes, arms and weapons, ritualobjects, ivorycarvungs, pottery.
Ratnapura National Museum
(closed on Thursday & Fridays)
This museum is housed in the ehelapolawalawwa situated on the ratnapura-colomboroad.of special interest is its collections of pre-historic objects and fossile of rhinoceros, hippopotamus and elephant collected from the gem pits of ratnapuradistrict.other exhibits include jewellery, textiles,flags, gems and semiprecious stones.
Anuradhapura Folk Museum
(closed on Thursdays& Fridays)
This museum is situated within the sacred city near archaeological museum.it houses a collection of objects reflecting rural life in the north central province.
The museum exhibits ancient paintings including rock art dating to the pre-historic era upto 20 th century A.D. it is located close to dambullarajamahaviharaya, which has the largest collection of will painting in srilanka within a cave temple.it is one of the largest cave temple complex in south east asia. the museum covers paintings of Anuradhapura,polonnaruwa,sigiriya,kandy,yapahuwa,mullkirigala,kataluwa,samudragiriviharaya at mirissa, telwatte, kelaniya and gothamiviharya, borella. and displays the rock art in the pre-historic caves at tantirimale, rajagaha and other places.
Galle National Museum
(closed on Sundays & Mondays)
Located in the historic dutch fort of galle.this museum displays objects connected to the history and life of people of galle.products of handicrafts include reedware,embroidery,horn and shell objects.
Galle Maritime Museum
(closed on Fridays & Saturdays)
This museum is housed in an old dutch building in the historic fort of galle.it has on display objects connected with marine biology and botany.there are also some beautiful diagrams showing local fishing methods.(damaged by the tsunami disaster)
Koggala Folk Museum
Koggalab folk museum presents a rare collection of folk implements and appliances from different parts of the island.the items are arranged under twenty five different categories representing handicrafts, folk art and music,cottage industries, agriculture, flokmedicine, costumes, religion etc. this museum created as a tribute to martin wickramasinghe, the doyen of Sinhala writers is ginpathaliya in koggala, the birthplace of the late writer that had once been the playing field of young wickramasinghe.
Historical Mansion- Galle
A splendid dutch building, te oldest within the dutch fort has been lovingly restored to its original grandeur and consists of three units. The museum contains a collection of rare and antique items dating from per Portuguese period to british colonial era. Jewellery, pottery. Coins & chinese porcelain items are on display. The art gallery provides facilities for exhibition, sale and purchase of rare antiques and colonial furniture. The arcade houses a gem jewellery and handicraft shop equally in teresting for the visitor. A guarantee certificate is issued to all articles sold as to its authenticity.
Ambalangoda Mask Museum
(admission free. Open from 8.30 a.m to 5.30 p.m) situated at 426, main street, ambalangoda. Established in 1987 to protect amd promote srilanka’s unique ‘mask’ culture of the southern coastel belt with aid and cooperation of the german government. Among the exhibits are masks over 250 years old belonging to the family of ariyapalagurunanse, the great artisan of ambalangoda masks. There are two kinds of masks, the masks with bulging eyes and manacing expressions are those depicting the faces of demons used in exorcism ceremonies. The other are faces of animals and human figures associated with the low country folk theatre. A visit here would be a faseinating experience.
Walisingheharischandra Museum Mahunupitiya, Negombo
(closed on Thursday & Fridays) walisingheharischandra was regarded as a national hero lived in the 19th century. He was active in educating the sri Lankan of the value of their cultural heritage at a time when most of the people blindly imitating the western way of life. The museum houses some furniture and the other articles belonged to walisingheharischandra and objects of traditional arts and crafts.
Centuries old articles gifted to the sridaladamaligawa by kings, nobles and other devotees have been put on display in a will laid out museum within the precincts of the maligawa. Housed in the two upper stories of the building at the back of the shrine house, this museum displays rare ola manuscripts, royal apparel, life size models of the last king and queen of kandy, variety of antiquities, ornaments and ritual objects.
Monument to Rajah (former maligawa tusker)
To the north of the maligawa complex facing nathadevale is the mausoleum of rajah, the most devout servant of the maligawa. The maligawa tusker that carried the relic casket in the annual esalaperahera for 50 years from 1937 to 1987 died in 1988. But the majestic tusker still stands gracefully in still life inside the building with an extended lease of life given by local taxidermists bringing nostalgic memories to those who have seen him carrying the casket in the perahera. Visit to the mausoleum is a tribute paid to the dead tusker.
The department of archaeology maintains archaeological museums at Anuradhapura, kandy, sigiriya, polonnaruwa, Jaffna, panduwasnuwara, ampara, yapahuwa and dedigama.
Open:on all days except Tuesdays from 0800 hrs.to 1700hrs.
Publications on respective archaeological sites available fro sale.
Photography: permit from commissioner of archaeology, dept. of archaeology.
Ceylon Tea Museum
The Ceylon tea museum is located at hantane, 3 miles from kandy town. It is served by a motorable road that circles the museum, providing easy access. Adequaye parking facilities are available for cars and tourist coaches.
The museum consists of four floors and exhibits very old machinery used for tea processing, a library, an auditorium for audio visual presentations. A tea sales outlet and a deluxe restaurant occupies the fourth floor with a panoramic view of the hunnasgiriya, knuckles range and matale range of hills which could be viewed from a telescope mounted on the floor.
BMICH (Bandaranaike memorial international conference hall) houses memorabilia of Mr.S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, prime minister, assassinated in 1959 (admission:adults Rs.8/-, Children Rs.4/- photography permitted. Guides free of charge.
Gems the gemological museum
At ratnapura (6 ehelepolamawatha, batugedera, ratnapura)and in kandy (ceygems international, 673, Peradeniya road, kandy)established by Mr.a.g.b.amarasinghe, consultant gemologist and professional Collector, has a rare collection of gems, precious minerals and other specimens.it also has a special display Of traditional and creative jewellery.