A portal into an era long ago, Dutch Period Museum rings of authenticity with its beautiful collection on display. Covering the Dutch colonial rule in Sri Lanka exclusively, this Dutch Period Museum was originally a mansion built in 1656. Built close to Wolvendaal Church in Pettah, Colombo Dutch Museum is possibly one of the last remaining Dutch buildings in Colombo that has not been refurbished. This Dutch Period Museum was once a seventeenth century Dutch Governor’s mansion and over the ages, was used for different purposes.
With high roofs, red tiled floors, and columns befitting a Dutch mansion, Colombo Dutch Museum takes tourists back in time. Arched wooden doors guarding the entrance to this Dutch Period Museum, and thick walls blocking out Pettah’s city noise and bustle, all add to its charm. Simple, yet elegant, the museum has a certain beauty in its construction. The upper floor has a creaky wooden flooring that affords not just ambiance, but a remarkable view of Pettah and the museum’s surroundings. With a low veranda and a well maintained lawn, this Dutch Period Museum is one of the most striking architectural feats in Colombo.
A single cinnamon tree lies in the courtyard gardens of Colombo Dutch Museum. It serves as a reminder of the reason why Dutch traders came to Ceylon in the first place. The Dutch Period Museum is maintained beautifully. With rows of honeysuckle lining its lawn, and an age old stone well at its end, the museum has three low set verandahs to walk along the lawn. While many people have forgotten about this hidden gem in Colombo, the Dutch Period Museum is not one to miss on a tour.
History and Artifacts
Having endured over four centuries in time, the Dutch Period Museum tells quite a tale. The museum has rather unique collection of headstones and Delft porcelain. It also hosts exquisite samples of Dutch furniture and flaunts some very old documents from the Dutch Colonial Era of Ceylon. Over the ages, the mansion has been used for several other purposes. It was used as the residence of Governor Thomas van Rhee when it was originally constructed. Later on, it was converted to a college to train teachers and clergymen. Financed by the Dutch East Indies Company, it became an orphanage, then a hospital, until in the late 1800’s, it was converted to police barracks under British rule. In 1832, it was declared as Pettah Post Office. After suffering intense damage from heavy rains, it was abandoned for a while until in 1973 it was restored and reestablished as a Dutch Period Museum.
The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm. It remains closed on every Sunday and Monday. The tickets for foreign nationals are INR 200 per person for adults and INR 130 for children. It remains one of the most popular tourist places in Colombo.