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Museums In Sri Lanka You Must Visit With Your Friends

One of the best things about exploring a foreign country with your friends is that you get to explore a whole other culture together. Sri Lanka welcomes intrigue with its many years of recorded history, depicting its beginnings, evolution, and kings and revolutions.

Sri Lanka’s diverse and rich history has permeated throughout the island and manifested itself in song, art, dance, and even our work. For a country that treats its culture with great zeal, preserving its history is of utmost importance.

Museums are at the forefront of these preservation efforts, and a tour of them is exactly what you need if you are eager to learn about Sri Lanka’s past. Group tours can either be arranged beforehand with a guide, or you could show up spontaneously and be welcomed with just as much enthusiasm.

Here are 4 museums you could visit for a fulfilling learning experience.

1. Colombo National Museum

The Colombo National Museum is Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest museum. It was first opened to the public on 1st January 1877 by the then Governor of Ceylon Sir William Henry Gregory, housing 1,200 artefacts. By its 125th anniversary, the number had multiplied several times over to over 100,000 artefacts and items from natural history. The museum is home to a vast range of such objects, including traditional masks, over 4000 palm leaf manuscripts, ancient coins, armaments, and even frescoes. The Tholuwila Buddha statue from 800 AD is one of the museum’s most popular attractions, situated right in the lobby.

The museum is open almost all week, excluding Fridays and public holidays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

2. National Maritime Museum, Galle

If you heart lies with the sea, then a visit to the National Maritime Museum is highly recommended. It’s also a recommended visit to those who are simply curious about marine biology and Sri Lanka’s over maritime past.

It was first opened on 9th May 1992; and due to the catastrophic events of 26 December 2019, when the tsunami destroyed the museum and most of its exhibits, the museum had to undergo significant reconstruction for three years.

Today, you could find models representing marine ecosystems, including the flora and fauna found in them, and preserved coral, shellfish, and other marine specimens. Amongst the exhibits are the gear and vessels of local fishing communities. The museum’s hours are from 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

3. Mask Museum, Ambalangoda

The Mask Museum is situated in the coastal town of Ambalangoda in the South, which is well-known for the mask making industry. Celebrating one of Sri Lanka’s oldest and most artistic traditions, the Mask Museum contains many colourful exhibits that tantalise the eye.

Many of these traditional masks are used in the practice of devil dancing, which is believed to ward of evil and cure ailments caused by unseen forces. A visit to the mask museum will be both educational and entertaining as the various designs and types of masks on display lead you into a realm of otherness.

It’s open from 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. all week, but may be closed on public holidays.

4. Sri Dalada Museum

The Sri Dalada Museum is part of the Temple of the Tooth, or Sri Dalada Maligawa, in Kandy. The Buddhist temple, which is a World Heritage Site, houses the Sacred Tooth Relic believed to have belonged to Lord Buddha.

The Sri Dalada Museum, a relatively new addition to the Temple, is perfect for a mind- enriching tour on Sri Lanka’s history, particularly the local Buddhist history, and can be found in the Aluth Maligawa wing.

A majority of the exhibits are donations from devotees, and consist of ancient jewellery, portraits, busts, royal garments, tools used in rituals, and more. It is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday, but may be closed on public holidays.