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Maritime National Museum

The Maritime National Museum is located within the Galle Fort, one of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO world heritage sites, inside a Dutch warehouse that dates back to the year 1671 and that is integrated with the Old Gate entryway. The building’s design is incorporated as part of the fortified ramparts that surround the Galle Fort, and managed to withstand the impact of the devastating tsunami that rocked Sri Lanka in 2004. However, the UNESCO Maritime Archaeology Unit that the museum was attached to was destroyed, and a majority of the artefacts within it were lost. Out of the 3600 archaeological objects that had been salvaged from shipwrecks around the Galle port and contained within the museum, as few as 20% was able to be recovered.

The Maritime National Museum was opened to the public in 1992. After the damage of the tsunami, the Royal Government of Netherlands provided financial assistance to Sri Lanka to allow for the museum’s reconstruction, and it was reopened after three years. It is now a centre for education, and its exhibitions showcase the types of watercraft used in Southern Sri Lanka; the lifestyle and fishing techniques of the local fishing communities; artefacts that date back as far as 800 years old and that were recovered from shipwrecks off the southern coast; and the variety of marine ecosystems that are spread around the island.