Maritime Museums (Historic Buildings & Sites) in Sri Lanka

Naval Museum, Hood's Tower, Trinco

Named after Admiral Sir Samuel Hood who located a vantage lookout point from which enemy ships could be detected and subsequently bombarded. Within the old British gun site in Hoods Tower there is a small but well built fort with underground casements. It appears that this fort was repaired, modified and strengthened during different colonial times. Now it is home to the naval museum.


Open to public daily during weekends and holidays from 9am to 5pm and 2pm to 5pm on weekdays. Fee. Entrance through Naval Dockyard main gate. Prior permission 3 days in advance is required by sending a fax to 026 222 0045 addressed to Eastern Naval Command Area Trincomalee with a copy of your ID. Call 026 226 6100 to check confirmation.

Maritime Archeology Museum, Galle

The museum is housed in a 1671 Dutch East India Company VOC Warehouse above the Maritime Museum which is a little bit confusing. The entrance is at the west side of the building located opposite the Dutch Reformed Church.

Here you can learn about the work of the maritime archaeologists who are surveying the 26 shipwrecks in Galle Harbour. It is worth going in just to look inside this amazing historic building. Exhibits of marine artefacts found in underwater explorations including the recreation of the 30m VOC Avondster are also showcased.

A number of Chinese vases are displayed. There is a gallery 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 vessels. Entrance fee.

National Museum, Colombo
Colombo Port Maritime Museum
Maritime Archeology Museum, Galle Fort
Maritime Museum Galle, Galle Fort
Fisheries Museum, Martello Tower, Hambantota
Naval Museum, Kirinda
Naval Museum, Hoods Tower, Trincomalee
Naval and Maritime Museum, Trincomalee
Jaffna Archeological Museum
Doric House, British Governor's Mansion, Arippu
Kudremalai (Horse Point), Wilpattu National Park
Maritime Museums and Other Heritage Sites around Sri Lanka
Naval & Maritime Museum, Trinco

Located in the 17th century Residence of the Dutch Naval Commissioner, in Trincomalee town in front of Dutch Bay. This two-storey historical building has been well renovated and was opened in 2013. The Museum is small but has many exhibition booths containing information on the history of Naval affairs, sea artefacts and marine life. Informative historical exhibits are housed on the ground floor including a video documentary. On the first floor are exhibition displays on corals, mangroves, seagrasses and marine mammals. Well worth a visit. Open to public. Closed on Tuesdays.

Doric House, Arippu

Located in Arippu, 8km north of Silavathurai. House of the first British Governor of Ceylon, Hon. Frederic North. Designed by Doric and built in 1804 to oversee the pearl fishery off Kondachchi Bay. The mansion had 4 small bedrooms on the ground floor with a flight of stairs at the centre and one large dining hall with the governor’s bedroom on the first floor. Open to public.

Colombo Port Maritime Museum

Located towards the end of Chaithya Road in Colombo Fort. The Museum tells the story of the origins of Colombo and its maritime and trading history dating back over 2,000 years. Exhibits include paintings, maps, armoury and figures. Open to public 10am to 7pm daily. Free.

A deeper understanding of our society and the nation’s rich maritime legacy is not possible without knowledge of her maritime heritage.

National Museum, Colombo

The oldest and largest museum in the country, established in 1877 by Sir William Henry, British Governor of Ceylon. The main sections are natural science, culture, natural heritage and the library. Open to public 9am to 6pm. Closed on Poya days. Fee.

Jaffna Archeological Museum

Located in Nallur, Jaffna. This interesting museum is hidden away at the end of a shabby garden behind a concrete events hall. Exhibits range from ancient Sri Lanka period to colonial times. At the entrance are a rusty pair of Dutch cannons from the fort and a set of whale bones. Open to public.

Ancient Mariners, Trincomalee

Maritime Museum Galle

Located in the same Dutch warehouse and below the Maritime Archeology Museum in Galle Fort. Exhibits of marine artefacts recovered in underwater explorations including ship wrecks are show cased in the Museum. There are maps, naval craft, ropes, earthenware, beer mugs, smoking pipes, barrels, vast amount of articles including artillery guns and sailor shoes.


The first gallery depicts the traditional life style in Southern Sri Lanka of fishing communities including fishing techniques with attractive models and replicas


The second gallery is focused on marine eco systems and their flora and fauna. Displays includes mangroves, sea shore plants, corals, marine shells, invertebrates, turtles, sea birds and marine mammals. A full length skeleton of a Bryde's whale that stranded in 2003 is mounted to the roof. Entrance fee.

© Howard Martenstyn

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SL Ports Authority Maritime Museum

© Howard Martenstyn