National Museum: Beholding the art of the orient
For enthusiasts everywhere, it’s no mystery that the National Museum is considered as the perfect haven for an escape through the streets of Manila. Located along Taft Avenue, this home of Philippine art culture has been around for over a hundred years, yet with the recent announcement of free admission forever, the museum has been turning new heads and aesthetically seeking hearts—without leaving a dent in our wallets. Join us as we take a peek into the National Art Gallery of the National Museum, encapsulating the very best of Philippine artistry in this national landmark.
From the moment you enter the museum, the architecturally sound lobby lined with ivory inscriptions greets and beholds visitors to the wonder they are about to encounter. Housing two floors of various exhibits, viewers are free to decide on the order of the displays they’d prefer to see—and just how long they plan to stay in each room. Pre-booked tour guides are available for willing guests and even free for groups of 20 or more; yet there is a certain charm in exploring the museum free from any constraints and deciphering the artworks on your own.
Showcasing more than 10 galleries per floor, each exhibit wall is coated with eye-catching colors ranging from bright blue to a calming red that highlight each masterpiece of the room. Starting from the museum’s renovation back in 2013, these awe-inspiring and vibrant colors truly give off an artistic vibe and add a certain touch of modernity to the classic masterpieces we know and love. The open space allotted for each gallery serves as a breather for the guests to take in the artworks and capture some seriously amazing photos while they’re at it. An enclosed garden in the middle of the first building also serves as both a resting place and an area for visitors to appreciate the beauty of the entire museum.
Keeping true to the museum’s mission to grow the already widespread art appreciation in the Philippines, the amount of photo-worthy sights are available to professional photographers and even those looking for a humble social media post. However, since the museum’s announcement of “no admission fee,” security measures have become stricter in terms of taking photographs, as visitors are no longer allowed to take “wacky” shots with the artworks or even take silhouette pictorials by the windows.
It goes without saying that the National Museum is the threshold of vibrant art in the Philippines, yet there are noteworthy exhibits that take the cake when it comes to long-lasting impressions and visual aesthetic—with no filter needed.
Within the 20 exhibits located in the museum, diversity is key when it comes to retaining each gallery’s impact on the viewers. Notable displays include the Rizal Room of Gallery V, hosting original sculptures and figures of the National Hero himself; and Gallery XI, showcasing the first pencil draft and ink sketches of the very first Philippine National Artist Fernando Amorsolo.
Tucked away on the second floor is the stunning old House of Representatives Session Hall, with its enormously high ceilings and awe-inspiring architecture. Of course, a trip to the National Museum wouldn’t be complete without the pièce de résistance itself—Juan Luna’s highly coveted and world-renowned masterpiece Spoliarium. These larger-than-life highlights faithfully remind visitors of the grandeur of artistry, all while subtly allowing the love of Philippine heritage to take root in the hearts of visitors.
Art enthusiast or not, the National Museum is undeniably the national landmark that goes beyond #FeedGoals, serving art-hungry visitors the Philippine artistic culture they may have been deprived of. Open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 10AM to 5PM, this abode of heritage is the opportunity to value local art culture that shouldn’t be missed.