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Galle National Museum

The Galle National Museum is one of Sri Lanka’s major national museums, and is located within the oldest standing Dutch building in the Galle Fort. Established by Sri Lanka’s Department of National Museums in 1986, it hosts a collection of exhibitions that showcases objects from Sri Lanka’s time under Portuguese, Dutch and then British rule, as well as a range of important artefacts inherited from Southern Sri Lanka. These include equipment from aboard the Dutch ships that came into Galle’s harbour, porcelain artefacts and a range of weapons used by the Dutch soldiers.

The building was constructed in 1656 by the Dutch as a commissariat store, overseeing the provision of supplies for the Dutch garrison that was stationed at the Fort. Afterwards, it became the billiards room for attached New Oriental Hotel (now called the Amangalla Hotel), before being renovated into a museum that would raise awareness on the traditional cultural heritage of Southern Sri Lanka.

The museum’s first gallery showcases collections from the local cottage industry, such as the creation of turtle-shell jewellery, the traditional weaving of Sri Lanka’s beeralu lace, and the crafting of the island’s famed carved wooden masks. The second gallery holds furniture and weaponry from the Dutch period. The final gallery – called the Sri Lanka China Friendship Gallery – is devoted to the history and archaeological evidence of trade relations between Sri Lanka and China.