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Mr. Ranjith Hewage

Museum Director | Colombo National Museum

A great light to the field of Sri Lankan archaeology, Professor Prematilleke was a rare scholar who had marked the excellence of any work in his field. He truly transcended the field of Sri Lankan archaeology. Having a unique experience in designing museum exhibitions, he started the mission of promoting national museum exhibitions in the mid-90s by contributing to the exhibition called “Sri Lankan Bronze Sculptures”. His greatest contribution to the subject of Sri Lankan Museum exhibitions is marked by the exhibition modernization project of the National Museum of Sri Lanka. The opportunity given to me and my contemporary museum colleagues to work closely with him for 10 years from 2004-2014 when that project was implemented, was extremely important.

He put the theoretical knowledge we had about museum exhibition planning entirely into practical use. At that time, he had also spent some nights in the National Museum despite being 80 years old. The hours of painstaking effort he put his eye to in different dimensions to locate a single artefact revealed the perfection of his exhibition design. The writing style shown in all the information boards presented in the National Museum’s exhibition number 01 to 13 is unique to him. After surviving a near-fatal car accident, he did not give up his work and was taken to the upper floor by the museum staff in a wheelchair with great respect. From his wheelchair, he quietly looked at the exhibitions he had made, then he called the young museum workers who were near him and explained it to them with great happiness. He did not give up his work until his eye, along with the artefact lighting specialist, located the light streams from the lights in different dimensions.

He has told us on two occasions that he is extremely happy about his contribution to the Sri Lankan Museum sector. He has created many museums and upgraded others, but he was particularly happy about 2 of them. The first of these was the museum of World Buddhism that he created in the Sri Dalada temple, which is the crown jewel of Buddhists. The second was when the exhibition halls of the National Museum of Sri Lanka were redesigned. Even today, visitors from home and abroad see the exhibitions created by the vision of Professor Leelananda Prematilleke at the National Museum.

Ranjith Hewage | Museum Director
Colombo National Museum