Maldives National Museum is one of the major tourist attractions in the capital, Malé; it’s just a block down from the Muliaage Palace at Sultan Park. Here, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the history and culture of this archipelagic nation in the Indian Ocean. It’s a great way to spend an hour or two when staying in Malé.
The museum displays a range of historic Maldivian artefacts from ancient and medieval periods to modern times. Highlights include objects that belonged to former kings and queens, including costumes and furnishings, as well as weaponry and armour, coins and anthropological pieces that offer insight into a way of life now long past.
Also on display in the marine collection are the skeletal remains of a six-metre-long Longman’s Beaked Whale, a rare species of beaked whale that lives in the waters surrounding the Maldives archipelago. Unfortunately, an attack by vandals on the National Museum in 2012 saw a collection of pre-Islamic Buddhist artefacts destroyed, including an 11th-century coral stone representation of Buddha – a devastating loss for the country who can never reclaim this precious and ancient heritage.
Maldives National Museum is open 9am to 5pm Sundays through Thursdays. It’s located in Sultan Park, the former palace grounds of the Sultan of Maldives, now a public space where locals can enjoy trees, flowers and greenery. Nearby landmarks include Muliaage Palace and the beautiful 400-year-old Malé Friday Mosque complex.