Galle Museums  

, Sri Lanka has four rather small and quaint museums which display aretefacts from the city's colonial past.

Galle National Museum Oldest Building in the Fort

Location: Church Street
Entrance Fee: Rs300
(+Rs250 for photography)
Times: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
Visit Duration: 15 - 45 minutes

Sri Lanka National Museum is a long one-story building on Church Street. With a colonnaded front veranda, it is typical of Dutch architecture of the period. This building was once the barracks for junior officials of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). It is one of the oldest structures from the Dutch period.

The museum is rather basic but contains some interesting objects from the past. A large section of the museum is dedicated to the visit of the Chinese adventurer Zheng He whose fleet of over 200 vessels visited Galle between 1406 and 1433. The scale models of the Chinese ships which dwarfed equivalent vessels used by the Europeans at the same time is instructive. There is a large collection of ancient masks used for festive and religious occasions. A motley collection of objects from the Dutch period include, furniture, weapons, cutlery and crockery. There are also some plates with Moorish art suggesting these were from the Arabs who lived in the area.

Mansion House Museum Free Private Museum with a Crazy Assortment of Odd & Ends

Location: 31-39 Leyn Baan Street
Entrance Fee: Free (Walk-by)
Times: 9AM - 5PM
Visit Duration: 30-60 minutes

The museum is set in a old Dutch colonial house with, pillared verandas, central courtyard and private (water) well.

This private collection has been painstakingly assembled over a period of 40 years by its owner, Abdul Gaffar. The museum contains more fascinating artifacts arranged haphazardly on dusty old cabinets and shelves then either of the official museums in Galle.

You will discover all sorts of interesting and quirky paraphernalia from the past. These include oddments made from tortoise shell (now banned) such as combs and boxes, porcelain crockery, lamps, household utensils and even old cameras. Also notice the keystone block near the well inscribed with the monogram of the Dutch East India Company, VOC, dated 1763.

This is one place in Galle, if not the whole world, where they actually don't seem to want your money. It is a there for you to marvel at , and its all free - a labor of love. I love the notice advertising that its all free. Look for it. Its worth a photograph.

National Maritime Museum Artifacts from Shipwrecks

Location: Queens Street
Entrance Fee:
Rs300 (+Rs250 for photography)
Opening Times: 9AM - 5PM Tues-Sat
(closed Sun, Mon and Public Holidays)
Visit Duration: 20-40 minutes

The National Maritime Museum is housed in a section of the Old Dutch Warehouse. The museum was set up in 1994 to exhibit maritime artifacts discovered from the ship wrecks around Galle. The museum suffered severe water damage during the 2004 Tsunami when sea water inundated the building to a depth of nearly 2.5 meters. Over 80% of its exhibits were lost.

An introductory video gives useful background information on the maritime history of the port and of the many shipwrecks with lie on the bottom of the ocean in the area. Much of the items retrieved are from the Dutch East India Company (VOC) ship Avondster which slipped anchor and was wrecked against submerged rocks in 1659.
The museum depicts watercraft and village life around Galle from early times, Flora and fauna of the area, models of ships and various objects retrieved from shipwrecks. There are also some dusty mannequins depicting village life in ancient times and also scale models of whales and dolphins.

Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum

Location: Koggala
Entrance Fee:
Opening Times: 9AM - 5PM
(closed Sun, Mon and Public Holidays)
Visit Duration: 60-120 minutes

Set in a luscious garden with native birds and plants, this well- curated folk museum is treasure cove of artifacts reflecting the life-style, costumes and traditions of middle-class Sri Lankans from a by-gone era. The exhibits and well arranged with excellent descriptions provided.

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