Museums, Colombo

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  • Dutch Period Museum, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
    Dutch Period Museum, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
    by planxty
  • Exhibit, Dutch Period Museum, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
    Exhibit, Dutch Period Museum, Colombo,...
    by planxty
  • Dutch Period Museum, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
    Dutch Period Museum, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
    by planxty
  • planxty's Profile Photo

    The building is the star here.

    by planxty Written Feb 2, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Dutch Period Museum, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
    4 more images

    In the centre of the bustling, noisy and marginally manic Pettah (market) area of Colombo stands the rather fine building you see in the main image which houses the Dutch Period Museum. It is a building with quite an interesting history and dates to the very late 17th century when it was constructed by the Dutch Governor of the area, a chap called Governor Van Rhee who was the incumbent from 1692 - 1697 and it is understandably in the Dutch style. The Dutch ruled the coastal parts of Sri Lanka for a time, generally under the auspices of the VOC (Dutch East Indies Company) and some Dutch streetnames still exist here like Leynbaan Street.

    Apart from serving as a private residence for the Governor, the Dutch House, as it is known, has fulfilled many roles. It has variously been a college for clerics and schoolmasters, an orphanage, hospital, military barracks, police training facility and post office, so it has seen much in it's 300 plus years of existence.

    As for the Museum itself well, frankly, it is not much to write home about. There are some old pieces of furniture, a few weapons, a room full of old Dutch headstones brought from elsewhere and that is about it really. the enclosed garden is delightful, however and strangely you cannot even here the hubbub from the street outside, it is a very tranquil place.

    The ground floor would be wheelchair accessible but the upstairs which houses the bulk of the exhibits would not. The toilets should you need them are at the rear of the garden on the right although the almighty cracks in the wall suggest it about to collapse imminently!

    The Museum was opened in 1977 with financial assistance from the Netherlands and is the only Museum commemorating Dutch colonialism in all their former territories.

    Open: 09:00-17:00 (closed Sunday and Monday) although last tickets are sold at 1630. Admission is 500SLR and a further 250 SLR for a camera pass.

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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    Slightly disappointing.

    by planxty Written Jan 31, 2014

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    Railway Museum, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
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    It is no secret to anyone having read my other pages here on Virtual Tourist that I love railways and take every opportunity to "ride the rails". I suspect it may have something to do with my paternal grandfather having been a railwayman and my late Mother having been brought up living in Station houses. As well as train travel, I love railway museums and have been lucky enough to have visited some great ones with York and Utrecht, Netherlands being particular favourites. I really cannot imagine why I have not created a tip about the one in York so that is another thing I need to do here.

    When I read in my guide book that there was a Railway Museum in Colombo it was a certainty that I was going to visit it sooner or later. Actually, it turned out to be later. I had planned for several days to go but something always cropped up and so I was really quite excited when I did eventually get there. I knew that like so many parts of the British Empire Sri Lanka had a long history of train transport and indeed still does have a good network. I did read that they are even laying new track from Matara to Kataragama so they obviously see a future for the railway. I was sure that with all this rich railway history that the Museum would be really worth seeing.

    The Museum is housed in the now disused Terminus Station building which you can see in the image. Fort station (see separate tip) has taken over as the main hub in the city. I went in and was greeted by a delightful young lady in a sari who spoke good English and informed her that I would like to buy a ticket but she informed me it was free although my book had mentioned a 500SLR entry fee. I was quite glad I didn't have to part with money, which is only a small sum anyway, because the second image shows you the Museum. That is it. There are a few small displays, signed in English and I have constructed a travelogue to show you just about everything on offer. I had asked if photography was allowed and the young lady seemed unsure and had to consult with the man in the office before permitting it.

    I looked out the back and had seen a couple of pieces of rolling stock which looked like they were ongoing projects and asked if I could go and look at them. Certainly I could. It transpired that what you see here is nearly the complete display. To be perfectly frank, it looked more like a breakers yard than a Museum and it did sadden me a bit. Having made the effort to get here I made sure I took my time but even dawdling a bit and taking lots of images, the whole visit only took me about 30 minutes and I could have seen everything in much less than that.

    One good thing is that it is all on one level which would make it wheelchair accessible.

    really hate to write negative tips at any time and certainly not about a place I am enjoying so very much. I am sure there must be a huge amount of railway memorabilia still in the country and with a newly peaceful Sri Lanka trying hard to attract tourism, I really think someone in authority should have a look at creating a proper Museum concerning this important part of the nation's history. To be honest, the attached website is more informative than the Museum itself which I think is really only of interest to hardcore railway enthusiasts.

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    Gangaramiya Temple-Museum-IV

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 25, 2012

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    Just near the exit is a tall glass-covered display unit at the top of which is a stark skeletal statue of the Buddha. This is a startling, compelling image and one that you will not forget in a hurry.

    For the next Museum Tip, Please Click Here

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    National Museum

    by tayloretc Written Mar 9, 2008

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    The ground floor of the National Museum has about a dozen rooms with a pretty good display of the history of Sri Lanka starting from prehistoric times, and a sculpture gallery. The history rooms are set up consistently, with information and artifacts on politics, literature, architecture, and a couple of other topics I can’t recall – not extensive, but a good overview. I recognized two of the pieces on display from art books.

    Upstairs is weird. I got the sense that it wasn’t finished, although one sign on a display of masks said it had been there since 2003, so it’s not like they haven’t had time. The bits and pieces of the collection here are random – displays of marionettes and toys from France, India, Czechoslovakia, and three displays from Belgium in a room with the skeleton of a blue whale suspended over it all; common kitchen tools through the years; a collection of watercolors of Sri Lankan landscapes by an Englishman in the 1840s; huge 19th century copies of famous ancient Buddhist frescos, and so on.

    Admission is Rs500, and you can’t take a camera or cell phone inside (you can check them at the door). Everyone’s shoes squeak on the first floor; the floors upstairs are wood parquet, so your shoes won’t squeak, but some of the pieces are loose, so you might trip.
    The Natural History Museum is around the back, but I didn’t have time to check it out. There’s a small museum shop selling replicas and postcards at the gate. Open Sat – Thurs 9-5.

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    The Natural History Museum

    by xiquinho Written Dec 26, 2007

    To the rear of the National Museum is the National Natural History Museum. As you'd expect in a country boasting such natural diversity as Sri Lanka there is plenty of subject matter. You are directed through the collection via numbered galleries, with the first concentrating on the rather mundane flora, mineral wealth and landscape of the island - including some scale models of hydro-electric power schemes and discussion of the agricultural techniques employed throughout the nation.

    The galleries upstairs cover rather more interesting subject matter, including stuffed indigenous birds and their eggs, although rather disappointingly, insects are only represented in drawings rather than models or preserved examples. Snakes are better represented, in pickled form. The more fearsome examples include the naja naja - or cobra to you or me - and the deadly Russell's viper. The large mammals are kept to last and are set out in a stuffed tableau. The leopard on-show here, as the note tells you, is a record breaker, having killed 11 villagers before finally being hunted down.

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    National Art Gallery

    by xiquinho Written Dec 26, 2007

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    Across the road from the park is the National Art Gallery. A rather thin collection of paintings it is nevertheless housed in a very grand building, with gilded eaves and some intriguing sculptures outside. Inside, the paintings are rather simply displayed but there is no explanation or brochure to fill you in on artists or subject. You can always try asking the attendant. There are some small sculptures, but there seems to be little noticeable reasoning to the way items are displayed, covering all epochs and artistic styles. The occasional special exhibition of local art is sometimes on offer.

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    The Dutch Period Museum

    by xiquinho Written Dec 26, 2007

    The 150 years of Dutch dominance in Sri Lanka from 1640 to 1796 left an indelible impression on the country. The Pettah's Dutch Period Museum, housed in a handsome building of the era, traces the ups and downs of Dutch rule over the century and a half before the British usurped their European neighbours. The two-storey building was originally the Dutch town hall. The ground floor contains a varied collection of artefacts left behind by Dutch settlers, including weaponry and pieces of contemporary art.

    The upper floor's rooms house many pieces of large furniture from the Dutch period. The rear of the building opens into a pleasant overgrown courtyard with a central well, surrounded on the other three sides by single-storey buildings. The one to the right as you enter the courtyard contains a collection of Dutch gravestones recovered from the cemetery in the Pettah.

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    National Museum, Colombo

    by eranda Written Jun 14, 2005

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    National Museum, Colombo

    This is the main Museum of the country build by the formor Chief of the country Sir, Willium Gregory, established 1877. in side the Museum yo can see millions of unforgettable sri lankan historic monuments and cultural heritages, Best known for its collection of antiques and objects of displaying the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka. For the visitor on a short tour, unable to visit the ancient cities of Sri Lanka, a visit to the Colombo Museum will give an idea of the history of the country and its people.

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    National Museum, Colombo

    by eranda Written Jun 14, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This is the main Museum of the country build by the formor Chief of the country Sir, Willium Gregory, established 1877. in side the Museum yo can see millions of unforgettable sri lankan historic monuments and cultural heritages, Best known for its collection of antiques and objects of displaying the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka. For the visitor on a short tour, unable to visit the ancient cities of Sri Lanka, a visit to the Colombo Museum will give an idea of the history of the country and its people.

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  • mafi_moya's Profile Photo

    National Museum

    by mafi_moya Updated Sep 16, 2004

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    The National Museum

    Housed in a beautiful 19th century whitewashed British colonial mansion, the National Museum is a good chance to find out about the long and varied history of Sri Lanka. There are sculptures, carvings, paintings, pottery and fascinating everyday items from the ancient capitals of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy. The last Kandyan king's throne is on display, as well as a large exhibition of military history and ancient weaponry.

    There is an archive of hundreds of thousands of priceless books and palm-leaf manuscripts documenting the history of the island. There's also a small Children's Museum, with live puppet shows at the weekend to keep the kids occupied.

    The separate Natural History Museum is also housed here (but with its own entrance), taking a look at the country's non-human history with displays of fossils, rocks, natural resources and plant and animal life. There's a skeleton of a full-sized elephant, and the museum also looks at the incredible physical geography of Sri Lanka.

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    • Archeology
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