By Tara Yap
Iloilo City—The century-old Iloilo provincial jail, which has been converted into the the Iloilo and Western Visayas Regional Museum, has been declared as an “Important Cultural Property.”
National Museum Director Jeremy Barns made the declaration during the April 11 turnover of the former jail facility by the provincial government of Iloilo led by Governor Arthur Defensor Sr.
The abandoned jail—built in 1911 and ceased to operate in 2006—is an “exceptional cultural and architectural significance relative to the local area’s history and culture”.
Defensor initially broached the idea in 2010 of converting the old jail into a museum. The provincial government initially funded P20 million in retrofitting the structure.
By 2014, the Iloilo provincial government signed a 25-year usufruct agreement with the National Museum, which spent P80-million to finish the jail-to-museum conversion.
Barns clarified the museum is not yet open. When it does open, it will showcase archaeological, flora, fauna, textiles, and other artifacts from all over Western Visayas region. In particular, the pre-Hispanic “Oton Death Mask”, which is at the main National Museum in Manila.
“This museum will not only represent the glorious past of the province and city of Iloilo, but the glorious past and history of Western Visayas,” Defensor added.