The National Museum of Colombo, also known as the Sri Lanka National Museum is one of two museums in Colombo. It is the largest museum in Sri Lanka and a wonderful place to get an introduction to the country’s history and cultural heritage. The Museum is located in the central district of Colombo 7. The impressive building was commissioned by Sir William Henry Gregory who, as British Governor, responded to public appeals to establish a museum. It was opened in 1877. New wings have been added over the years and an adjacent Natural History Museum was established. The Museum underwent a major refurbishment between 2015 and 2017.
&Beyond can arrange a tour of the Museum lasting between 1 to 2 hours highlighting the counties artistic achievements and heritage. This is an ideal introduction to a tour of the island’s varied cultural sites.
The museum is home to evidence of early man’s presence on the island approximately 25,000 years ago. Major galleries trace the arrival of Buddhism to the island and its establishment as the world’s oldest continuously Buddhist land. A magnificent 8th century stone Buddha greets visitors. Another gallery houses bronze and stone artefacts associated with the Buddha. Some of the displays lack detailed descriptions but our guides can bring this extraordinary collection alive. The successive Hindu rulers left a fine legacy of bronze images and some of the finest are on display. One gallery looks at the Kandy Kingdoms with King Wimaladharma impressive royal throne built in 1693. This is complimented by the Crown Jewels of the last King of Kandy that were returned by The British Museum. Other galleries highlight the Dutch and British periods, and another has a collection of magnificent masks. More than 4.000 palm leaf manuscripts are in the collection.
The Museum is closed on Fridays and Public Holidays.