Galle National Maritime Museum

On a wet day or a very hot day during a visit to Galle in suthern Sri Lanka, seek shelter in the Galle National Maritime Museum and the Maritime Archaeological Museum which is housed in the old Dutch East India Company VOC Warehouse.

Galle National Maritime Museum

Galle National Maritime Museum in Sri Lanka entrance

Gatehouse of the Galle Fort in southern Sri Lanka. Here you can learn about the different Sri Lankan fishing boats, the visiting merchants and the colonial powers.

It is worth going in just to explore this amazing historic Warehouse building. The numerous wrecks have provided great finds a lot of which are on display. Sri Lanka was in the middle of a trade route so there are lots of examples of pottery, weapons, clothing, food and drink containers and ship maintenance store room equipment like ropes, blocks, anchors and maps.

Maritime Museum

Galle National Maritime Museum in Sri Lanka was an old Dutch warehouse

There are exhibits on life in the oceans that surround Sri Lanka. It covers the flora as well as the fauna. There are displays focusing on different environments like the sea grass bed, mangrove swamps, coral beds, and deep sea habitats. If you go with children they will enjoy leaning about the whales. There are some dioramas that try to tell the story of the fishing industry in Sri Lanka and the boats that are used.

The Museum was flooded in the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami but with help from the Government of Holland / Netherlands the museum has been restored. I personally thing the best part of the museum is the building. Where else in the world can you explore a 300 year old Dutch colonial VOC warehouse in immaculate condition. The piles of industrial dark grey bricks in front of the building are there because they were being used to create a cobbled, in character, road way outside. They produce a much better historically sympathetic finish than plain tarmac.

Maritime Archaeology Museum

Galle Maritime Archaeology Museum in Sri Lanka entrance

Galle Maritime Archaeological Museum

The Maritime Archaeological Museum is housed in the old Dutch East India Company VOC Warehouse above the Galle National Maritime Museum which is a little bit confusing. The entrance is at the west side of the building. The other end from the old Dutch Gatehouse. Here you can learn about the work of the Sri Lankan maritime archaeologist teams who are surveying the 26 shipwrecks in Galle Harbour. It is worth going in just to look inside this amazing historic building. Traders have been visiting Sri Lanka for thousands of years. They have come from Arabia, Africa, China as well as Europe.

In 1421 Chinese Admiral Zhang is recorded as visiting the island and you can see the stelle that he left on display. There are a number of Chinese vases on show. There are dioramas depicting early Sri Lankan hunter gatherers. There is a section on the occupation of Ceylon by the Dutch East Indies Company VOC and the effect it had on trade. With the arrival of the European colonial powers the museum tries to show the effect that this had on the local population who had to take on manners and dress of the Portuguese, Dutch or British to succeed. There is also a large scale model of one of these early European armed sailing boats

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