Like guests in one’s own country. That’s how visiting a museum can make you feel. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does show how there’s so much about our own society’s history, cultural heritage, art, and even natural history that we don’t know—or, at least, don’t know fully.
When was the last time you visited a museum? Field trips during your school days don’t count. When was the last time you visited a museum because you wanted to? Well, if you haven’t gone in the past couple of months, here’s a list of museums you can easily visit this weekend or the next.
The National Museum of the Philippines
This one’s a triple treat. Located inside the Rizal Park, the National Museum is now a complex of three buildings, each housing a specific collection. There’s the old Senate building that’s now the National Museum of Fine Arts, the old Finance building that houses the galleries of the National Museum of Anthropology, and the recently opened National Museum of Natural History at the old Tourism building. Open from Tuesdays to Sundays, with no entrance fee, the three National Museums are easily the most accessible museums to the public. With a fascinating collection that includes Juan Luna’s “Spoliarium,” the skeletal remains of Lolong (the once largest crocodile to have ever been in captivity), and the treasures of the galleon San Diego, the National Museum is definitely worth a visit.
In terms of location, the Ayala Museum is perhaps the easiest to get to. Sitting between two Greenbelt Malls, it’s not difficult to include a visit to the Ayala Museum as part of a family weekend paseo, after shopping or dining at a nearby restaurant. Its permanent galleries do not disappoint, beginning with the largest collection of native gold artifacts in the country, an interactive diorama of Philippine history, and a well-curated sampling of Chinese ceramics dating as far back as the 14th century. The museum also features various collections from local artists in its changing galleries, which now includes 11th century Fujian ceramics. The Ayala Museum also holds regular art workshops.
The Ayala Museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entrance fee is at P225 for Filipino residents, with a discounted rate of P125 for students and senior citizens. Teachers who bring their valid school IDs get to enter for free.
University of Sto. Tomas Museum of Arts and Sciences
Being the oldest existing university in the country, the University of Sto. Tomas has what’s possibly the oldest museum in the Philippines (founded in 1871). Located inside the university’s main building, the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences was initially meant to be used as an observation center. Their current collections include objects and artifacts from the Spanish times, such as musical instruments, metal crafts, coins, and household tools. There’s also a section dedicated to the first bishop of Manila, as well as galleries for botany, biology, minerals, and paintings from the 17th to the 20th century—with works by Fernando and Pablo Amorsolo, Carlos Francisco, Vicente Manansala, and Galo Ocampo. It also has the largest carved ivory religious image in the country.
The UST Museum of Arts and Sciences is open on Mondays, from 1 p.m. to 4.30 p.m., and from Tuesdays to Fridays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free for UST students, while adult guests pay P50 and non-UST students pay P30.
Pinto Art Gallery
Located on the hills of Antipolo, the Pinto Art Gallery has become a favorite for the Instagramming public. The picturesque buildings inside the compound match the panoply of modern paintings, sculptures, and mixed media artworks—mostly from local artists—that dot the many halls, floors, and walls of the museum.
Only an hour away from Manila, the Pinto Art Gallery is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A whole day tour around the gallery costs P200 for adults, P180 for senior citizens, and P100 for students with valid IDs.
The Mind Museum
Arguably the most modern among all the museums in the country, partly because it is the newest, the Mind Museum is the kind of science museum you probably dreamed of as a child. Some of us were fortunate to have seen the Air and Space Museum that temporarily set up shop in Biñan in the ‘90s, sure. But the Mind Museum is that and more, plus it’s a more permanent space for science and technology that’s located inside the sprawling Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. So kids and kids-at-heart will have an amazing time touring the Mind Museum’s more than 250 interactive exhibits, planetarium shows, experimental demos that make you feel like a true scientist, and a superb 3D theater, displayed as a series of five interconnected stories. There’s also a botanical garden that doubles as a venue for the museum’s other educational programs.
The Mind Museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 9 a.m.to 6 p.m. Ticket prices range from P190 to P625, depending on which exhibits you would want to visit.
Here’s a peculiar museum. Located in Tagaytay, the Puzzle Mansion holds a collection of jigsaw puzzles recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest in the world. What began as a rest house for the family of Georgina Gil-Lacuna, who is an avid puzzle collector, the Puzzle Mansion now has over 1,000 puzzles—with the official Guinness record set in 2012 for 1,030 puzzles. The oldest puzzle in the collection is a 5,000-piece Mickey Mouse jigsaw that Gil-Lacuna bought in Hong Kong sometime in the 1980s.
The Puzzle Mansion is open from Mondays to Fridays, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., to adults and kids for only P100.
Essentially one big museum in itself, the walls of Intramuros hold several interesting museums. There’s Casa Manila, the museum of Fort Santiago, Bahay Chinoy, and the museum of the San Agustin Church—where the remains of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi are interned—each presenting a glimpse of the Philippines’ colonial past. And since they’re all located within minutes of each other, a weekend day-trip to the country’s former capital is more than enough to visit all of them. You might even have time to walk along the walls.