National Museum

National Museum information

Malé , Maldives
Street Chandhanee Magu
+960 3322254
adult/child under 12yr Rf50/15
Opening hours
9am-5pm Sat-Thu, closed holidays
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Lonely Planet review

The brand new National Museum may be a ferociously ugly building gifted by China, but it nevertheless contains an excellent and well-labelled collection of historic artefacts that serve to trace the unusual history of these isolated islands.

The display begins downstairs with galleries devoted to the ancient and medieval periods of Maldivian history. Items on display include weaponry, religious paraphernalia and household wares as well as many impressively carved Arabic- and Thaana-engraved pieces of wood commemorating the conversion of the Maldives to Islam in 1153.

Upstairs is a display representing the modern period and including some prized examples of the lacquer-work boxes for which the Maldives are famous, and various pieces of antique technology including the country’s first gramophone, telephone and a massive computer. Quirkier relics include the minutes of the famous underwater cabinet meeting held under President Nasheed in 2009 and an impressive marine collection, the highlight of which is the 6m-long skeleton of the very rare Longman’s Beaked Whale, which is yet to have been sighted alive in the sea.

Rather annoyingly, despite nearly all items being safely behind glass, you’re followed around the museum rather unsubtly by a guard, but that aside, this is an excellent and fascinating place to visit.