Its iconic building is set for decommissioning
Where a galaxy closes, another universe opens. Well, it is not to be taken literally in the case of the National Planetarium. On Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) announced the temporary closure of the National Planetarium as its iconic dome building, which has occupied its spot in Rizal Park since 1975, is set for decommissioning.
On its official Facebook page, NMP explains that it will give way to the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) and its renovation plans for the central and western sections of Rizal Park.
Also, as mandated by Republic Act No. 11333 or the “National Museum Act of 1998,” NMP has its own developments for the National Museum Complex at the eastern section of the park (where the National Museum of Anthropology and National Museum of Natural History are located), including the adjacent area where the National Museum of Fine Arts is located.
“[T]here are times in the life of a beloved institution where a long chapter has to be brought to a close in order to start a new one, for a new contemporary world and a new set of generations of Filipinos,” NMP says in its post. “Thus it is, with a measure of sadness, fondness, and nostalgia—but also with anticipation and excitement for its future, that we announce the temporary closure of the National Planetarium as an institution and the decommissioning of its 46-year-old premises in the central section of Rizal Park, Manila.”
The National Planetarium became a regular destination for school field trips as it gives a full-dome and true-to-life digital and mobile projection of the solar system. It also used to host shows and exhibitions that feature various astronomical facts and celestial observations.
In 2018, it faced a weeklong renovation and was reopened in January of 2019, where they exhibited the ethnoastronomy of indigenous Filipinos, providing a glimpse of how the stars helped guide our ancestors in their way of living. Like other NMP institutions, it was forced to shut down in April 2020 due to the pandemic. It reopened July this year, following health and safety standards set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
NMP admits that they are sad to retire the old building but excited and motivated to work to deliver a new facility that will breathe new life into the National Planetarium.
“Stand by for the announcement of our plans, currently in the development stage, for a new National Planetarium truly worthy of the name in our present time, and which will be designed to serve the public well for many more decades to come with the unique experience that only a world-class planetarium can provide,” it says.
The announcement came days after the National Planetarium celebrated its 46th anniversary last Oct. 8, 2021, and in the middle of Museum and Galleries Month in the Philippines. It is an annual commemoration set by Presidential Proclamation No 798 s. 1991 that recognizes “the cultural heritage of a nation is one of the foundations of nation-building and, to a great extent, gives direction to the shaping of national destiny; and whereas, the rich cultural heritage of the Filipino people, depicting their aspirations for unity in diversity, deserves preservation.”