This museum is situated on the south of Gawdaw Palin Pagoda. It was first opened on the first October .1979. Except On Mondays and gazetted public holidays it is open daily between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
The old archeological museum is on the north of Ananda irinple. It is quite close to the precinct of the Temple. It was established in 1904. Because it was congested with many new acquisitions, a new modern museum was needed. So in 1967 the construction of a new modern museum began. It is a complex of one octagonal main structure in which archeological objects are to be displayed and three big open sheds in which stone inscriptions are to be set up.
In the center of the octagon is the inscribed stone pillar With four faces, each face bearing inscription in a different language— Pyu, Mon, Myanmar and Pali. This pillar is known HS Yaza Kuma stone Inscription. It is a very important source Bagan history. Dolomite plaques depicting Jataka stories, bronze figures of lotus flowers, broken pieces of fresco are on display in the show cases.
Other exhibits include stone implements of Prehistoric Ages, bronze tools, fossils, Buddha images of bronze, stone and wood belonging to the period between the A.D 11th and 13th centuries. Pieces of inscribed palm leaves, relic caskets, pottery, glazed pots and wares and different terra cottas.
The first Archaeological Museum of Bagan was opened in 1904 near the northern entrance of Ananda Temple. The exhibits in that museum were artifacts collected by Mr. Taw Sein Kho, the Superintendent of the Epigraphic Office and the Buddhist monk U Seinda of the Ananda monastery nearby.
In addition, statues, images, figurines, and antiquities moved from the Temples and Pagodas for security reason, and a bronze frog drum and the statue of earth god from Shwezigon Pagoda were displayed.
The majority of the exhibits are the archaeological finds excavated around ancient Bagan, votive objects, bronze Buddha statues, terra cotta votive tablets, glass relic caskets and bronze figurines, discovered in the pagodas and monuments hit by the earthquake of 1975.
Some artifacts were recovered from the debris. As the first museum became fully filled with exhibits and many more were added to the collection, a new modern museum (present one) was built and opened on 1st October 1979.
Since 1988 there have been frequent theft and robbery of Buddha statues and antiques from the Bagan temples. Therefore the remaining Buddha statues in the monuments and temples were moved to the museum and plaster replacements were installed there.
On display at the new museum is one very rare and artistically accomplished carving on a small dolomite stone. Eight scenes from Buddhavamsa (Buddha's life) are depicted on a single piece. The figures and background scenes are executed in minute detail. Such carvings on dolomite stone pieces were discovered inside the heads of some Buddha statues damaged by the earthquake of 1975.
Another rare and unique exhibit is a colourful fresco done on a piece of cloth. Being enshrined in the Buddha image, the frescoe was well protected from elements of nature. Judging by this artifact we may safely say that the Bagan artists used various hues and colours and the cloth used was a cotton material of fine quality and dexterously hand woven.
The Buddha statues and figures are displayed according to the sequence of Myanmar historical periods such as the Pyu Period, early Bagan Period, middle Bagan Period, Late Bagan Period, the Pinya Period, the Inwa Period and the Konbaung Period. Bronze statues and figures, stone statues and figures, wooden statues, glazed objects and terra cotta objects form the major portion of the exhibits.