Malé National Museum – An Extravagant Trip Through the Past
The National Museum in Malé was once part of the 17th century Maldivian Royal Palace and was established in the early 1950s to help preserve the culture and history of the country. There’s a ton to see at the Museum, all on display to help visitors appreciate and learn about all that shaped the country into what it is today. You can find quite an extensive collection of displays here from ancient stone objects to royal antiquities from centuries ago.
The National Museum constitutes of two buildings which are separated by Sultan’s Park at the old palace grounds. The older of the two is home to an array of riches that belonged to the Sultans that once ruled these lands. Within its halls, you can find the garments worn by royalty, stone objects from Maldives’ pre-Islamic period, various manuscripts, weapons, photos and other such items that paint a picture of what Maldivian life was like in ages past.
The newer building is a conversion of the old palace building and thus retains many of the original’s quirks like the handwritten Qur’an engraved on the building walls. The building houses an exhibition of 120 Maldivian legal deeds and other such official documents which date all the way back to the 1600s.
Among its various exhibitions of artefacts and relics, there also lies the country’s first printing press, the rifle that Mohamed Thakurufaanu used when he fought against the Portuguese during the 16th century and many other figures that have been excavated from former temples dating back to the 11th century. There are also displays of old canons, pieces of Buddhist and Hindu idols, gorgeous lacquer workboxes and a replica of the pen that was utilized in the signing of the ‘Declaration of Independence.
The lower level of the museum holds within it galleries that are dedicated to the medieval periods of Madvain history with numerous religious paraphernalia, weapons, household wares and skillfully carved pieces of engraved wood that commemorate Maldives’ conversion to Islam.
On the museum’s 2nd floor you can find relatively contemporary displays which include a variety of antique technology sich the country’s first gramophone, telephone and computer. Other interesting exhibits that you’d be delighted to see are the massive Beaked Whale skeleton and a rendition of the famous underwater cabinet meeting that was held by President Nasheed in 2009.
The richness of history on display here is a sight to behold for anyone, tourist or local, which makes the Malé National Museum a must-see for any Maldives visitor especially those who have a keen desire for history.