A trip to Sigiriya Museum will change the concept of museum that one has about a typical museum building. Exceptionally brilliant in its architectural design the Sigiriya Museum is considered a one of a kind and a museum with an individualistic character should come in the top of to do list when one is visiting Sri Lanka. The concept of the museum is to provide its visitors with the experience to understand and communicate with each part of the museum with all their senses opened and connect its relation to the Sigiriya Rock, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka. This unique museum was opened to all in August 2009.
The museum is built with the idea of engaging the viewers mind so as to make him understand the story behind it. There is no need of any technical assistance as the exhibits, the big models and replicas defining the past and the photographs with writings are more than enough to converse with the visitor and to make them aware of the glorious past of Sigiriya Rock.
Keeping in mind the green surrounding and the forest cover of the site of Sigiriya, the museum retaining its Sigiriya glory evolved as the ‘Green Building’ where naturally growing trees lead the entrance way for the visitors. The whole museum was built around these trees with water areas imitating the Sigiriya water gardens which are without doubt the work of brilliance and wonder.
The entrance of the Museum is through a tunnel designed bridge, a replica of the excavated arch of the rock. The museum has two floors; one must enter the tunnel for reaching the first floor and then climb the stairs and cross the terraces to reach the second floor. The visitors lobby presents the short history of Sigiriya in three languages; Tamil, Sinhalese and English. There is an etching of the 13th century where King Kashyapa is mentioned.
The first floor is divided into many galleries segregated according to various themes with the first gallery belonging to the Pre-historic period where one can see objects providing evidences of proto-history and knowledge about iron technology which was in use during the 5th Century CE. Skeleton dating back to the pre-historic time kept with evidences of potteries and other terracotta artefacts are showcased. The second gallery belongs to the findings from the early and late Buddhist monasteries of Sigiriya. Two marble plaques from the Stupa of Pidurangala are displayed here. The third gallery with the theme of the Golden Period of Sigiriya showcases the storyline of King Kashyapa. Here, viewers can see the whole of the Sigiriya architecture with its hydraulic planned garden, the lion’s paw and the summit of the rock all as a model below the glass panels. The fourth gallery exhibits works of graffiti and some terracotta sculptures. The fifth gallery exhibits jewelleries, coins, weapons, potteries etc all belonging to both court and monastic life.
The second floor mesmerizes the visitors by putting up exact replicas of the frescoes seen on the rock face. This gallery is specially made keeping in mind the differently-abled people who cannot visit the Sigiriya Rock and look at the original ones. The Sigiriya museum has thus tried to keep the ancient history alive by making sure each and every part relates and accentuates the originality of Sigiriya. This museum is indeed a gem to visit where one can see the merge of history, culture, nature and technology all at the same time giving birth to a new era of museums.