Museum photos - part one

Opening Hours, Address & Map Location museum

Opening Hours:
The Museum is open every day from 9.00 AM untill 18.00 PM

The museum is free of charge because we want to give everybody the oppurtunity to see the exhibition but a donation, to maintain the museum, is most welcome.

Tsunami Photo Museum, Templeroad, Telwatta, Sri Lanka

Museum website:


Museum Sri Lanka: Mrs. Kamani de Silva / 00 94 (0)91 - 3900884

Holland : Mrs. Jacky van Oostveen / 00 31 (0)6 - 30266520 /

The museum is situated on Telwatta junction on Galle Road between Ambalangoda and Hikkaduwa. About 2 hrs drive south of Colombo and about 20 minutes drive north of Galle.

Reactions of the visitors

The museum visitors come from allover Sri Lanka and from all over the world. Here are some of their comments.........

" You mesium is very best and this mesium give to us. Good adias and best this mesium for our taken knowledge."

" Excellent Work, keep going "

" Your pictures help other visitors to touch reality of that day. Very humbling. Thank you. "

" We appreciate your work! "

" Your work is of great help to the world so that more love and generosity will grow. "

" The sorrow of the people and the victim, Tsunami can be seen through this museum. Please develop this further. "

" All the best - foreigner - good idea "

" Good work. Thanks for all Sri Lankans - on behalf of "

" Your museum is the best. You have done very well. I wish you good luck. "

" Keep up your good work. Thanking you. "

" All the best. May your idea get success. "

" Good job and we really appreciate u."

" It is great that this kind pictorial detection of events, so that the next generation will not be affected. "

" These images remind us the work is not done "

" Exceptional exhibition, thank you for assembling this."

" Actually this is a good work, but if you got information in under the pic, I think that is best "

" Thank you for establishing your museum "

" Very good work - time will heal xxx"

" A really important establishment both as a document of the Tsunami and a memorial to those who lost their lives. "

" Heart rending commitment "

" Your mesium is very best "

" The photos show to us, just what happened - it's hard to imagine. Good Luck. "

" The never seen of photo Sri Lanka "

" An extremely commendable task. Future generations would know what Tsunami did. "

" Ich habe alle fast noch einmal erlebt "

" I am on bicycle trip + stopped very spontanly. I saw the photos + dind't thought, how many places were damaged horribly. So it is good idea to see in rest all these photos + think about! Good luck! Jens "

Museum photos - part two

Museum News

26 December 2014
10 year memorial and remembrance

November 2014
Filming ZDF, German national television program at the museum

November / December 2014
Visit by photographer Sam Pickett for making his documentary

Request: Anybody who is in Sri Lanka around the memorial time

May 2014


A girl was traced who's photo was in the tsunami suitcase. After losing the photo during the Tsunami. first father could take a look and confirmed it was his daughter and later also the girl came. This was worth seeing and worth keeping the suitcase for

TSUNAMI SUITCASE returns to Sri Lanka after a 9 years trip to Holland.

I took it back to Holland, after cleaning in de tsunami affected villages, to keep save and keep it for the future. The suitcase was shown in some exhibitions. I was happy to finally bring it back to the tsunami photo museum Telwatta in Sri Lanka.



PS Jacky Chan was my temporary name that time

Art work 2005 with Tsunami suitcase

***************Donations **************
17th of January 2009 - From a fundraising activity we managed to collect € 1.300,= euro for the Tsunami Photo Museum in Sri Lanka.

We organised a model drawing/painting evening for 40 proffessional and amature artists. It was a very inspireing evening with 3 live musicians, 14 models and 5 art teachers, all these people donated their time for free. It was a great succes and onthe wish of the public we are going to organise it every year now.

26th of November 2008 - From the donations of an exhibiton in Hilversum The Netherlands, we recieved € 50,= , thanks to all who donated :-)

*************** Museum Colaboration *******************

10th of November 2008 - We are glad to announce that since the 7th of November 2008 we have agreed to start a partnership/collaboration with the "Watersnood Museum" in the province Zeeland in the Netherlands.

This museum commemorates and remembers the "Watersnood" (the flood disaster) of February the 1st in 1953. It was set up by a group of volunteers that experienced the flood themselves. Main aim of the museum is commemoration and remembrance. Besides this they want to share the stories of the past with the next generations.

The museum tries to portray the circumstances of the flood which occurred on February the 1st in the year 1953. Also we experience how people build up their lives from scratch and how aidworkers from all over the world came to help. The museum is situated in one of the four Phoenix-caissons that were used to close the last breach in the dike at Ouwerkerk. The closure took place on 6 November 1953.

The museum acquired the status of a provisional registered museum on 11 October 2005. The museum's donors are known as "Friends of the Watersnoodmuseum". They provide considerable assistance and support. The museum has been able to remain open thanks to the efforts of numerous volunteers.

In our joined forces we like to exchange our experiences and expand our relations. Although their disaster was 55 years ago there are a huge amount of simalarities, and we can learn a lot from their skills. Also we want to exchange museum items for temporary exhibitions to show the other part of the world what happend.

Their website is:

*********** Next work period Sri Lanka ***************

1st of November 2008- In the beginning of next year in the months February and March I will be going back to Sri Lanka again to continue the work on the exibition in the museum. At the moment I have started with the preparations: finishing this website and organising fundraising activities. Although the museum is open there is still lots to do !!

- The museum needs a toilet for the visitors, as most of them have been travelling for some time whilst they get there. We also need to have water so people can wash their hands and fresh up.

- Due to the starting budget of the museum, we started with very little budget to build the museum. That's why half of the museum is built permanent, but the other half of the museum is built temporary. We need to take down the temporary parts and build is permanent so it will keep for the longer term. At the moment we are still buying plastic to cover the walls on the outside to protect the photo material from the water coming inside the museum, which happens frequently. Also the temporary parts are to dark because of the plastic. When we build permanent we can add windows which make the space more light so people can see the pictures better.

- The signboard on the road didn't make it through the last rain season, so it had to be replaced by a new one.

- Because of the climate and the sea that is so close, some museum items have to be replaced already after one year.

- All the time we are collecting new material for the museum. This material has to be printed and laminated to develop the exhibition.

- We want to collect more stories from the people which we want to exhibit in the museum as well.

- We need to work on the publicity for the museum so more people will find their way to see it.

- The museum has a lot of photos, but we would like to add more texts to inform the visitors better about what has happened.

Museum background information

At the 26 of December 2004 I was sitting in Holland behind the television watching the Tsunami videos and the aftermath. I had just got back from a trip to Thailand and I considered myself lucky being in Holland at that time, if I had made my trip 3 weeks later I could easily have been in the Tsunami myself.

I watched the news all the time and decided I wanted to help, not just donate money but go over there and help the people who had suffered so much. I wanted to help the people in whatever way I could. I tried to get in contact with NGO's or people working on the site but this was very difficult. Nobody wanted to take the responsibility for helping volunteers. Finally after 3 weeks I got in contact with Jessica (also from Holland) who was helping the people in Sri Lanka.

On the 26th of January 2005 I was on the plane to Sri Lanka. I got some little donations from friends and I had asked some schools in my village to donate some presents for children there. I came to Hikkaduwa where Jessica was working together with more volunteers from all over the world. At that time most foreign people in this area where paid and unpaid aid workers.

We started with clearing rubble by hand in the village Wellawatta. After that I went to Hambantota for a week to do activities for children with another volunteer group. Between the rubble we would be colouring picture books, play cricket and other games at schools and in camps and made paper flowers and music in the childrensward of the hospital.

When I came back to Hikka Jessica and Co had already started to work in Telwatta. Making temporary wooden huts for about 15 families that were still living in the Temple at that time. Every day I passed Telwatta junction and this was still a big mess. People where living in tents between the rubble. Nothing had been cleared yet. After some time I decided to leave the other volunteers with the building of the huts and I started to see if I could help clean the rubble at the junction site. I tried to find volunteers to help and money to buy the needed cleaning tools, cause I didn't have any budget myself. After one day of work with 8 people we where only able to clear one house foundation and I thought: "My god this is one hell of a job I started!!!!"

Any way although it seemed a long and heavy job to do we continued and after about 3-4 weeks we where able to clear the site from rubble. Main problem was to find the money to pay for the bulldozers and lorries that where needed to take away the rubble. Nobody had really a budget for this. I was very thankful that Jessica's foundation wanted to donate the money for this and also to pay for the people who helped to clean. In the mean time I was able to get the Danish Peoples Aid to build shelters on the site and also I was able to get some funding for the clearing from them.

This was how it all started in Telwatta for me. After that I have been doing all sorts of projects in the area, but I kept coming back to Telwatta, because for some strange reason I felt at home there. And the people there have made me feel welcome and even when they didn't have anything themselves they would give me a smile and a cup of tea. Also I admired their strong sense of community spirit and their strength to rebuild their lives after loosing nearly everything.

I have been up and down to Sri Lanka since the Tsunami for the last four years. All these times I had taken lots of photographs. I also found out how important photo's are for the Sri Lankans themselves. Not only because they like them and put the photo frames on a central place in their house. Very much because, through the Tsunami, the people lost 98% of their photographs and didn't have any camera's. It where the aid workers, volunteers and journalists that had the camera's. They visited the sites and took pictures, but most of these photos the village people didn't see themselves.

From this background and my own background as a visual artist and an art teacher I decided to start the museum project. A project that is based with different aims:

- To visualize the stories of the local people who where affected by the Tsunami. A place where big and small stories can come together and can be shared. Not only the stories of the local people, but also about the people who came to help.

- To create a place where people can see and remember what has happened, because their experiences and the disaster that followed has had a big impact on the lives of so many people and will stay with them all their lives. Besides this fact, the Tsunami story has become a major subject of Sri Lankan history and is important to show to the upcoming generations.

- To try and collect international photo material and bring it back to Sri Lanka and the affected villages, like Telwatta and Parelyia.

- The Tsunami brought people from all over the world to Sri Lanka. Many villages had not met people from other cultures before. I hope the museum will be a place where cultures can come together in the future as well.

It is impossible to tell the whole Tsunami story, as there are too many. But by telling some of them I think a lot of people will get a general idea what has happened. The museum is not only about the Tsunami but also about the first years after, as so much changed every day during this chaotic period. I have chosen for a museum with a personal touch instead of a museum that shows all the facts. For me the personal stories are more important than the facts. Only the necessary facts to tell the story will be presented in the museum.

I had not been in Sri Lanka before the Tsunami. When I came here I saw the mess of a culture that has been whirled up side down. I had no idea how it had been before and what was normal and not. I learned about Sri Lanka life and culture the other way round. I learned about every day Sri Lankan life from rubble. Now slowly I get to see and understand what it had been like before the Tsunami. I hope I will be able to do more projects in Sri Lanka in the future. For now I would like to invite you to explore the museum and read the Tsunami photo stories.

Jacky - an independent volunteer from Holland