The Bank of Ceylon Money and Banking Museum is a museum developed by Bank of Ceylon. It is situated on the 28th floor of the Bank of Ceylon Head Office Building in the Fort area of Colombo. It has been designed to function in a dual capacity as an educational facility and a public relations tool.

The museum is designed incorporating many modern architectural and design concepts relating to both design in general and museum design in particular. The designing of the content was also based on similar concepts. As such it is one of the most modern museums in the country at the time of writing. It aims to rise from being merely a display to an environment that provides a stimulating, educating and pleasant environment that will create a memorable “school trip” experience, a stimulation of interest in the history of our country especially its coinage and an appreciation of the vision, courage and initiative of the pioneers who brought modern banking within the reach of the average indigenous Ceylonese (as we were known then)

BOC - Museum
BOC - Museum

The visitor group targeted are mostly school children who visit the Bank of Ceylon building as a part of annual school trips and visitors to Bank of Ceylon. (The Bank of Ceylon head office has a number of attractions for visiting school children among them are the museum, the viewing gallery/balcony on the same floor, the sculpture on the first floor referred to as the “Kaasi Thorana”, the “Dealing Room” where dealers attached to Bank of Ceylon Treasury Division trade in foreign currency using computer consoles.)

The Museum and its surroundings consist of the following sections

The Lobby area
BOC - Museum

The Lobby is the entrance to the museum giving the layout and the objectives, the right vibes, creating an ambiance of significance and worth.

Auditorium/ Video Projection Room
BOC - Museum

With a seating capacity of about 55, this is where visiting school children are shown videos on the history of trade and other such museum-related topics.

The Main Display Area
BOC - Museum

This consists of three sections, namely coins and currency, Bank of Ceylon and Modern Banking, a curved wall containing a timeline and descriptions, and a dark room.

The Coins and Currency Section
BOC - Museum

Here the coins and currency down the ages are displayed. The subsections of this main section consist of

  • The Ancient Period-(from the earliest times up to 700CE)
  • The Medieval Period-(700 CE to 1500 CE)
  • The Colonial Period-(1500 CE to 1950 CE)
  • The Modern Period-(1950 CE to current times)

Some of the oldest coins to have come into use-punch-mark coins, coins from the Akuragoda Hoard, Gold “Ran Kahavanu” coins bearing the names of Kings, Coins of the three European powers –Portugal, Holland, and Britain, coffee tokens issued by companies and currency notes are some of the many interesting exhibits. Each of these subsections has a touchpad giving more detailed information on the coins and currency of that section should a child/visitor be interested in a closer look and more detailed information on the coins.

The Bank of Ceylon Section
BOC - Museum

This section details the historic circumstances that led to the creation of Bank of Ceylon as the answer to the needs of the people of this country and Bank of Ceylon’s journey over the years up to modern times passing many historic milestones along the way.

The story unravels of the British and European banks establishing branches in support of the plantation and produce export activities, the problems faced by the indigenous Ceylonese in participating in the plantation economy, the formation of the Ceylon Banking Commission headed by eminent Indian Parsi Banker Sir Sorabji Pochkhanawala and the inauguration of Bank of Ceylon in 1939.

On display are some of the equipment and books used in banks in the early days such as ledgers in which entries were written by hand using dip pens and “G” nibs, accounting machines, electro-mechanical calculators. Also on display are some historic documents. Among them are some documents containing the signatures of the first Prime Minister and his successor in office, a set of documents showing a member of the public applying for and obtaining shares in the newly formed Bank of Ceylon.

The Modern Banking Section
BOC - Museum

This section, where the development is still going on, is expected to allow the visitor (in this case a school-going child) to experience modern banking.

The Curved Wall
BOC - Museum

The Bank of Ceylon Head Office building has a circular floor area and the curved wall in the interior of the museum section is used to link up the three main display sections. It has a timeline running at the lower area giving local events and global events allowing visitors to get an idea of what was happening around the world. 

The Wall also elaborates and complements the main displays. It starts with a brief narration on the development trade and the emergence of money and it goes on to give interesting tidbits of information such as a cross-section of an archaeological dig, the various symbols that are found on “Ran Kahavanu”, deciphering of the lettering on the Polonnaruwa era coins. The Bank of Ceylon Section details the Chetty Crisis of 1925, the US Stock Market crash of 1929, and the world entering the years of the “The Great Depression.”

BOC - Museum

This is a room without windows fitted with both ordinary and ultra-violet (UV) lighting enabling visitors to view special security features of modern currency notes which are visible only under UV lighting. 

Open-air balcony with 360° view of Colombo
BOC - Museum

The 28th floor-the one in which the museum is situated-has a viewing gallery/balcony running around the entire building which provides an excellent vantage point enabling the viewer to walk around getting a 360° view of the area around the building.

Visiting the Museum

The museum is not kept open generally but is intended to be viewed by prior appointment and permission. A request for permission should be made by a letter to the address below: 

The Museum Curator, 
Museum Office, 30th Floor, Bank of Ceylon Head Office, 
“BOC Square”, No 1, Bank of Ceylon Mawatha, Colombo 1 

The letter should be sent well in advance of the intended date of the visit or you can directly request permission by filling the booking request form. In the case of school groups, once confirmation is given that the visit has been granted permission the school must send a list giving accurately the full names of the visiting school children. This is to enable the Bank to arrange for the visiting children to receive any special gifts which may be on offer under various BOC schemes at the time of visiting. 

The viewing gallery/balcony is generally not opened unless the request includes a request for viewing from the viewing gallery/balcony. Since the museum and the viewing gallery/balcony are all considered, inter alia, as part of a high-security area, granting of permission is entirely at the discretion of the Bank of Ceylon which may deny permission without stating any reason whatsoever.

The number of viewers that could be accommodated reasonably without discomfort is considered to be 50 persons and the number should not exceed 55 persons. Any group larger than this will have to be accommodated by splitting into smaller groups of 55 persons or less. Those requesting permission should bear in mind that the Bank may (and often will) deny permission/access to very large groups. 

The school groups requesting permission should state the number of teachers/guardians who will be accompanying the school children as the Bank firmly believes that visiting children must be adequately supervised and controlled by teachers/guardians.

Visiting the Museum

Museum Booking Form

Contact Information


The Museum Curator,   
Museum Office,   
30th Floor,    
Bank of Ceylon Head office,   
BOC Square,   
No 1, Bank of Ceylon Mawatha,   
Colombo 01.

P: 011 220 5335
P: 011 220 5336  
F: 0112321160