By Edgardo J. Angara
The Vargas Museum in UP houses the collection of Jorge B. Vargas, the country’s first executive secretary. Jorge B. Vargas was better known as a sportsman and a politician, not as an art collector.
Yet his art collection is eclectic. His collection encapsulizes the birth of the Filipino nation, as Patrick Flores, the Vargas Museum director, aptly describes it. That period covers the end of the Spanish Colonial era in the late 1890s to the beginning of the American occupation in the early 1900s. And crosses over to the Commonwealth period until Philippine independence was proclaimed in July, 1946.
The collection consists of European realism of Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, the modernism of Victorino Edades, Galo Ocampo and Carlos Francisco, and the conservative art of Fernando Amorsolo.
Museums have become tourist destinations. Competition for visitors’ attention and attendance is getting intense. As a result all major museums in the world have website, apps and Virtual Reality (VR). Museum directors have become more imaginative. They shake things up, mixing old and new, the New York Times noted. The museum old masters are exhibited alongside works of living artist, in Frans Hals Museum in Holland.
Art fairs are going global, too. Europe, the Americas, and Asia may have a long headstart, but Africa and the Middle East are not being left far behind.
Museums today play a vital role in instilling a sense of pride in the past and of hope for the future. That motivated me to have a Galleon Museum built in Manila. Our forebears constructed the galleons in Cavite, of indigenous wood, manned the oars crossing the Pacific on the way to Acapulco. Yet that achievement has never been cited in the history books.
Public museums should reinvent themselves. They need to renovate and expand. And incorporate virtual reality. These iniatives require fund raising, tapping host cities and philanthropists. Max Hollein renovated the Stadel Museum in Frankfurt by mobilizing the city and its citizens.
In sum, museum, in partnership with universities, may be the way to a more humane world.
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