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The National Museum
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Author:  Guest [ Mon May 16, 2005 5:59 pm ]
Post subject:  The National Museum

The National Museum re-open Polonnaruwa Gallery

DM / 16MAY2005
By Suzy Steer-Fowler


The recent transformation of the Arunadhapura (completed in January) and Polonnaruwa (re-opened on April 26) galleries in The National Museum shows that Colombo's main museum is striving to move away from an outdated image of museums as places where bored children are forced to sacrifice hours of their precious school-holiday time by being reluctantly dragged around a collection of dusty artefacts by over-enthusiastic parents intent on an educational outing.

The overhaul has sought to bring the collections to life with more attractive arrangements in spacious glass wall cases, illuminated by state of the art lighting. Detailed, bold information panels in all three Sri Lankan languages have replaced the old simple name plaques and the white washed walls have been splashed with colourful photographs of ancient art and architecture. The overall effect of the newly bright and airy exhibition spaces is striking and far more in keeping with the gleaming colonial fa├žade of the museum building than the rather disappointingly gloomy previous interior.

The comprehensive collection gives the visitor a glimpse into Sri Lanka's golden-eras-of old that covers Palace Architecture, Trade and Foreign Relations, Language and Literature, Agriculture and Irrigation (including a working model of the Bisokotuwa) Coins, Health and Sanitation, Buddhist Art and Architecture, Hindu Shrines and Hindu /Buddhist sculptures in stone or bronze. Many of the relics were in a condition pristine enough to not have looked out of place on today's shelves of stylish Colombo boutiques.

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