More than just archives for dusty artifacts, museums are a solid record of a country and their identity as a people. So instead of simply hitting the shopping malls of Metro Manila, visit these five museums that not only celebrate a country’s history and art, but also have the added plus of being located in important heritage sites, and in beautifully designed buildings.
Recently restored to its former glory, architect Juan Arellano’s 1926 Classical Revival masterpiece—which used to be the former Philippine Congress—has, for the past decade, housed the National Museum. Established in 1901, it is not the oldest museum in the country (the oldest is in the University of Santo Tomas), but it is the country’s official repository.
Entering its great halls, with its intricately detailed spiral staircases and Neoclassical-style columns, is like walking into history itself. The main legislative building holds artworks of the old masters, Rizaliana, National Artists, specimens of flora and fauna, and other colonial and pre-colonial artifacts. Visit the main gallery with its piece de resistance—Juan Luna’s Spoliarium, a majestic monster of a painting (the lower part of the frame itself is nearly as tall as a human being) about the Philippines’ struggle under Spanish inquisition.
Must-see: Juan Luna’s The Spoliarium
Entrance fees: Adults, P100-P150; students, P30-P50
Museum hours: Wednesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Address: P. Burgos Drive, Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila