History through Object’d Art

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Metropolitan Museum of Manila

The Metropolitan Museum, built in the 1970s, was primarily intended for international exhibitions. After the EDSA Revolt in the 1980s, it has become more democratic and now exhibits works by both Filipinos and foreigners alike. Today, the whole third fl oor has a semi-permanent exhibit of visual arts starting with the most famous academic Filipino artist—Fernando Amorsolo. The exhibition then traces the development of visual arts in the Philippines to its present day. It is a very good overview of trends and variations Filipino artists have adhered to thru the years. At the basement, however, is a magnificent collection of pre-colonial gold artifacts. Not to miss are the massive barter rings as well as the belts, buckles and even masks for the dearly departed. On the other side of the hall, clay objects that pre-colonial Filipinos used for everyday life. Plates, pots, burial jars, even “lunch boxes.” These pieces truly make the visit to this museum worthwhile.

The Metropolitan Museum is located at BSP Complex Roxas Blvd, Manila.

Within the same compound sits the Money Museum. It traces the history of money even from other countries and most especially ours. It is interesting to see Philippine currencies with the faces of Queen Isabella, King Philippe, and even the President of the United States. One can trace the history of the Philippines in this numismatic collection since every major change in our country’s history comes a major change in our currency.

The Metropolitan Museum is open Monday to Saturday 10:00 am to 5:30pm and closed on Sundays, holidays and first Mondays of the month. The Gold and Pottery Exhibits are open only until 4:30 p.m, Monday to Friday, and closed on Saturdays.

Ayala Museum

One of the longest standing museums in the Metro, The Ayala Museum houses some of the most impressive artifacts of the Philippines, about the Philippines and even its neighbors. There is a very impressive ceramic collection from our neighboring countries, a growing diorama exhibit on important events in the Philippines, a venue for changing art exhibits, as well as venues for permanent art exhibits. But their most outstanding collection, just like the Metropolitan Museum is of pre-colonial gold. There are sashes, diadems, face covers, and earrings of immense beauty and importance. Filipinos love to fl ash their wealth, there is recognition when these fashionable works of art are displayed. The impressive workmanship, the creative genius behind them and every which way gold was used certainly brings a certain dignity, honor, and pride for being Filipino.

Ayala Museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 9am to 6pm.

National Museum

In the National Museum, some of the most important and historical objects are housed in two separate buildings. The old Senate, now called the National Art Gallery, is located at Padre Burgos Drive right across the Manila City Hall, while the building right across its back is called Museum of the Filipino People. The National Art Gallery houses fine arts from the Philippines at its best. The priceless “Spoliarium” together with other works by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Botong Francisco, Isabelo Tampinco, even sculptures by Jose Rizal are all housed there. While the Museum of the Filipino People, at the back, houses some of the most important heritage pieces of the Philippines. Included are the Manunggul Jar and a reconstructed balanghai. (There’s a newly built balanghai, faithfully copied, also at the grounds of the Old Senate building.) Both museums give its visitors a peak of our glorious heritage even before and during the colonial eras.

The National Museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Free admission on Sundays. Entrance Fees: Museum of the Filipino People and National Art Gallery Students P50.00; Senior Citizens P120; Adult 150

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