The Anuradhapura Archaeological Museum is one of the most prominent archaeological museums in Sri Lanka. Nestled between two important historical landmarks, the Brazon Palace and the Ruwanwelisaya stupa, the museum harbours artefacts, relics and scriptures of a bygone age, allowing its visitors to peer back in time and imagine what the glory days of the Anuradhapura Kingdom would have been like.
The Anuradhapura Archaeological Museum was established in 1947 due to continued efforts of Sri Lankan archaeological pioneer, Doctor Senerath Paranavithana. This makes it one of the oldest cultural museums found in the entire country. The museum was once an administration building used by Sri Lanka’s colonial overlords – it housed historical scriptures and artwork mostly for flavour and decoration. After it was established as a museum, extensive renovations were made and various artefacts were shipped from all around Anuradhapura to be put on display.
For anyone touring through Anuradhapura taking in all the cultural sight and landmarks, a visit to the museum can help put everything in perspective as you learn about the rise, heyday and decline of Sri Lanka’s great kingdoms. The museum is open 9 am to 5 pm every day with the exception of Tuesdays and every poya day.
There is an impressive collection of historical relics on display here, including ancient Buddha statues, inscriptions, paintings, golden coins and even the weaponry wielded by the country’s warrior elite. Additionally, there are several dioramas and miniature reconstructions of ancient historical sites like the Thuparamaya and Mihintale. These are often kept side-by-side with present-day images of the sites, allowing you to picture the wonder that it was once.