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Why Dutch Period Museum is special ?
This two storied large building reflecting the features of a 17th century Dutch Urban house was built by Thomas Van Rhee, The Dutch Governor of Sri Lanka from 1692- 1697 as his official residence. During the British period in 1796 this building was used as a arms store of army hospital, police training centre, Pettah post office and telecommunication centre. This building was preserved by a special preservation committee with the assistance of Netherlands government in 1977 and opened for the public as Dutch museum by the Department of National Museums. It has displayed over 3000 museum objects related to the Dutch who ruled coastal areas of Sri Lanka. (1658-1796)
What to explore at Dutch Period Museum?
There are documentary references that this building operated as an orphanage under the supervision of the deacons and financed by the Dutch East Indies Company VOC and with the help of private funding. It was also used as a hospital. It became a barracks in the second half of the 1800s. In 1900 a police training school was set up by the British and later in 1932 it became the Pettah post office.
Inside the museum you will find examples of old Dutch artefacts, coins, glassware, ceramics, weapons, gunpowder horns, tall twisted sandalwood candle holders, a child's cot, bells, alloyed candelabras and furniture. Many of the items are decorated with tortoise shell which was the fashion them. There are many historical documents and portraits from the Dutch Colonial period. Old graves stones that date from this period have been rescued and are on display. Work out how old most of the people were when they died. You will come to the conclusion that many Europeans died young. Watch out for locals trying to sell you fake Dutch Colonial money when you leave.
How to get to Dutch Period Museum?
Driving into Pettah is a nightmare park in Fort and walk/tuk to Mainstreet, turn off at 2nd Cross Street. The Museum's not too frequently visited so sometimes it'll appear closed, knock and a caretaker will appear to let you in.
- Experience the Dutch period of SriLankan History
- Beautiful Hidden Museum
- Nice collection
- Old building in the centre of market
- Interesting history in colonial building
Colombo 11 Colombo Sri Lanka
Tips for you
Dutch period Museum is located in the former residence of Count August Carl Van Ranzow. Built in the early 17th century it has an impressive collection of furniture, crockery, coins, arms and other historical items from the Dutch period. The Dutch period in Sri Lanka commenced with the seizure of the Portuguese settlements in Sri Lanka by the East India Company- Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie (VOC) on 12th June 1656 and ended with the surrender to the English East India Company on 14th Feb, 1795. This period was not a government by a Dutch nation or by a Dutch sovereign but a government of a Company with the object of commerce and especially of its monopoly. The Prince Street today has stores selling all sorts of items. The restoration of this building commenced in 31st Jan, 1977 and was opened for public on 15th Jan, 1981. The Tombstone hall here houses tombstones from the old Dutch cemetery in Pettah from the period 1656-1796. Each tombstone has a crest on the top with symbol of death. Most of these are of officials designated as either Captain, lieutenant, Clerk or book keeper with VOC.