Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum

Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum

The Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum, located in the Stapleton neighborhood of Staten Island, is the first museum dedicated to Sri Lankan culture outside Sri Lanka. Founded by Julia Wijesinghe, the museum aims to celebrate and educate visitors about Sri Lankan heritage. The museum is associated with the Lakruwana restaurant, owned by Julia’s family, which serves traditional Sri Lankan cuisine.

Julia was inspired to establish the museum to connect with her Sri Lankan roots and share this heritage with others. The museum’s collection includes Buddhist statues, gemstones, and ceremonial weapons, highlighting Sri Lanka’s cultural and historical aspects. The Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum represents the enduring cultural ties between Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan community in New York City.

History and Founding

The Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum was established in 2017 by Julia Wijesinghe. At the time, Julia was just 18 years old, driven by a passion for preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of her parents’ homeland, Sri Lanka. The museum is a part of the Cultural Heritage of Sri Lanka Inc., an organization dedicated to showcasing Sri Lankan culture.

The idea for the museum originated from Julia’s desire to create a space where Sri Lankan culture could be celebrated and shared with the broader community. With the support of her family, particularly her father, Lakruwana Wijesinghe, an artist and archaeological enthusiast, Julia began collecting artifacts from Sri Lanka. These items, including traditional instruments, Buddhist statues, and ceremonial weapons, were shipped to New York to form the museum’s initial collection.

The museum is located in the basement of the Lakruwana restaurant on Staten Island, which also serves as a cultural hub for the local Sri Lankan community. The restaurant, owned by the Wijesinghe family, provides an authentic Sri Lankan dining experience, further enriching visitors’ understanding of Sri Lankan culture.

Through her efforts, Julia Wijesinghe has created a unique institution that not only preserves Sri Lankan cultural artifacts but also serves as an educational resource for visitors. The museum offers a window into the rich history and traditions of Sri Lanka, bridging cultural gaps and fostering a greater appreciation for this vibrant heritage.

Cultural Significance

The Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum on Staten Island is a unique spot that offers a deep dive into Sri Lankan culture. It’s located in the basement of the Lakruwana restaurant, making it the first museum outside Sri Lanka dedicated to showcasing the country’s heritage.

One of the standout features of the museum is its collection of Buddhist statues, including a notable replica of a seated Buddha. These artifacts offer a window into the spiritual traditions of Sri Lanka, reflecting the country’s deep Buddhist roots.

The museum also displays traditional instruments and ceremonial items, like historical weapons, which highlight the craftsmanship and cultural practices passed down through generations. These pieces tell the story of Sri Lankan artistry and tradition, providing a tangible connection to the past.

The museum’s setting within the Lakruwana restaurant adds to its charm. Visitors can explore the artifacts while enjoying the authentic flavors of Sri Lankan cuisine. The restaurant’s aromas of spices and dishes enhance the cultural experience, making it a place where you can truly immerse yourself in Sri Lankan culture.

Beyond just displaying items, the museum runs educational programs aimed at helping people understand and appreciate Sri Lankan heritage. It serves as a bridge between Sri Lanka and the local community, preserving cultural identity and fostering cultural exchange. This museum enriches Staten Island by adding to its diverse cultural landscape.

Sri Lankan colorful masks and puppets

Exhibits and Collections

The Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum features a diverse range of artifacts that offer a window into Sri Lanka’s rich cultural and historical heritage. The collection includes:

Buddhist Statues: The museum showcases several Buddhist statues, including a significant replica of a seated Buddha. These statues highlight the importance of Buddhism in Sri Lankan culture and provide insights into the country’s religious traditions.

Traditional Instruments: Visitors can explore a variety of traditional Sri Lankan instruments. These include drums and string instruments used in various cultural ceremonies and performances, showcasing the island’s musical heritage.

Ceremonial Weapons: The museum displays historical weapons that were used in ceremonial contexts. These items reflect the craftsmanship and cultural practices associated with Sri Lanka’s historical ceremonies.

Masks and Puppets: The museum features an array of colorful masks and puppets, traditionally used in Sri Lankan folk dances and theatrical performances. These artifacts provide a glimpse into the vibrant performing arts of Sri Lanka.

Textiles and Clothing: Traditional Sri Lankan textiles and clothing are also part of the museum’s exhibits. These items illustrate the intricate designs and techniques used in Sri Lankan weaving and garment making.

Each exhibit in the museum provides a tangible connection to Sri Lanka’s cultural and historical narrative, allowing visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the country’s heritage.

Visitor Information

The Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum is located in the basement of the Lakruwana restaurant at 668 Bay Street, Staten Island, NY 10304. The museum is easy to reach by public transportation, and there is parking available nearby.

Hours of Operation: The museum is open on Fridays from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM and on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM. If you need to visit outside these hours, you can arrange an appointment.

Admission: There is no set admission fee, but donations are welcome to help support the museum’s operations and programs.

Tours and Programs: Guided tours are available during regular hours and can be booked in advance for groups. The museum also offers educational programs and workshops to help visitors understand Sri Lankan culture and heritage better.

Contact Information:

Additional Facilities: The Lakruwana restaurant upstairs offers authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, providing a complete cultural experience by combining the museum visit with a taste of Sri Lankan food.


The Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum plays a crucial role in promoting cultural understanding by showcasing the rich heritage of Sri Lanka. Through its diverse collection of artifacts, including Buddhist statues, traditional instruments, and ceremonial items, the museum offers visitors a deep insight into the artistic and historical legacy of Sri Lanka.

By visiting the museum, you can experience the vibrant culture of Sri Lanka firsthand. The museum’s exhibits, combined with the authentic Sri Lankan cuisine offered at the Lakruwana restaurant, provide a unique and immersive cultural experience. This museum not only preserves the heritage of Sri Lanka but also fosters a greater appreciation and understanding of its culture among the local community and visitors.

I encourage everyone to visit the Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum to explore and celebrate the rich history and traditions of Sri Lanka.

Share on

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *