Back to all fellows

Sanjeewani Upaka Widyarathne

Colombo National Museum

Education Officer

Country: Sri Lanka

ITP Year: 2019


As an Education Officer, Sanjee organises education programmes, lectures, workshops, public programmes, seminars, discussions, and guided tours for her institution and its audience of both local and foreign visitors. She believes that education programmes can provide opportunities for people of all ages, help to build a sense of community, and even promote economic development; meaning  museums can truly be places for everyone.

She also plays an active role in the arrangement of exhibits and dealing with the requirements of objects in the permanent exhibition galleries, and takes care of 16 gallery registers and databases of historic exhibits in the museum.

In 2023 Sanjeewani worked on two exhibitions, one permanent exhibition called Furniture Gallery, and a temporary exhibition where Sri Lanka asked the Netherlands to return six objects which were stolen and put on display in the Rijksmuseum. Researchers from both countries studied the provenance of these objects extensively. In this case, the return process formed the basis for further cooperation between the two countries and the cultural institutions concerned. A temporary exhibition of the stolen objects will eventually go on display at the Colombo Museum.

Sanjeewani is always participating in various workshops, courses and conferences. She has written multiple research papers on a wide range of topics and participated in the 21st General Conference and 22nd General Assembly of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in Vienna, Austria in 2007. At present Sanjeewani is conducting research to introduce a system of accessibility and usability of museums in Sri Lanka for differently-abled people.

Sanjeewani has a BA in History from the University of Kelaniya; a post graduate diploma in Archaeology; a post graduate diploma in museology; and an MA in Archaeology.

At the British Museum
During her time on the International Training Programme Sanjeewani was based in the Department of Asia and she spent her partner placement at National Museums Northern Ireland.

In 2019 participants were asked to plan and propose a temporary exhibition around an object from the Museum’s collection working within the theme of journeys. Sanjeewani worked with Nagwa Bakr (Egypt) on her Object in focus project. Their exhibition proposal was titled Spiritual Journey.

Sanjeewani’s place on the International Training Programme was generously supported by the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust.

ITP Legacy projects
In November 2023 Sanjeewani participated in an ITP legacy project attending the Museums Association Conference held in Newcastle-Gateshead. With fellows from Nigeria, Peru, Philippines and Turkey, Sanjeewani attended a programme structured around the 3-day MA Conference on The Power of Museums.

ITP Newsletter Publications
ITP Newsletter Issue 7 (2020), Your collection in focus: Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara: a masterpiece of Sinhalese Sculpture
ITP Newsletter Issue 7 (2020), Teaching Museums Audiences: the backbone of our museum