Tantalizing beaches, mountains and irresistible wildlife aren’t everything there is to a tropical vacation. Sometimes the best surprises come in the beauty of a unique urban touch, and Colombo is no exception. Probably one of Asia’s most intriguing capital cities, Colombo is where an ancient culture clashes and blends into a metropolis lifestyle that’s unlike anything else. And there’s just no better place to appreciate the city’s historical roots than at the Colombo National Museum.
Colombo is one great patchwork of amazing colonial buildings, gripping museums, fine eateries and glossy shopping centers. It’s where you’ll get the best deals on the island and it’s definitely where all the action is at. But if it’s the city’s road to progress that inspires your soul, then the Colombo National Museum is just the place for you.
You’ll find the museum in Colombo 07, down Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha.
The Colombo National Museum was set up over a century ago by British Governor Sir William Henry Gregory. Over the years, the museum has been developed and modified to feature the finest of Sri Lanka’s cultural and natural heritage in the best way. The result? A striking monument of art and perfection devoted to showcasing the cultural brilliance of ancient Ceylon.
The building itself is a graceful Italian colonial style creation. There’s a big stone Buddha statue dating back to the 9th century at the museum threshold, waiting to welcome visitors. Oh, and there’s plenty to see inside; countless collections including varieties of different statues, priceless paintings and other curious artifacts. You’ll find entire galleries of art and even carvings that date back to 1877. A few paintings you’ll see here are actually reproduced works of English paintings completed in Sri Lanka, going back to the 19th century.
The Colombo National Museum also hosts some remarkable war gear from the colonial times. There’s a fascinating selection of battle equipment you can see here; swords and guns of many ancient makes and models. The museum also features a range of stunning historical demon masks on display. The exhibit places are pretty spacious and nicely lit. Everything shows great planning and organization for a building that’s constantly being innovated. The exhibit areas are quite interesting and a real pleasure to explore.
The place is actually pretty big, with rooms sectioned off and dedicated to different aspects of Sri Lankan culture and history. The rooms on the building’s upper floor depict paintings with historical value and samples plus information on traditional textiles. The ground floor of the Colombo National Museum features four main exhibit areas. A lot of these artifacts that go back to the colonial era.
You’ll also find the National Museum of Natural History on the same premises. This second museum isn’t quite breathtaking as the first, but it’s certainly worth a look around. You’ll find a number of botanical and taxidermy exhibits inside, along with the National Engineering Technological Heritage Gallery.
If you find the time, you can even take a stroll around the gardens here. The museum gardens are quite pretty with great landscaping and lovely banyan trees. You’ll also find a café in the gardens, where you can catch a quick snack before moving on.