Every so often, a metropolis changes its nerve center—a reality brought about by lifestyle trends and the rise of a more vibrant hub of activity. For a time, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila was in the city’s ground zero for everything culture. Located in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Complex along Roxas Boulevard, it was close to the CCP, the influential galleries of Pasay and Malate, and the iconic artist hangouts.
In the last few decades, however, the address had been deemed inaccessible to many; also, the important galleries and hangouts have disappeared. The city’s more exciting activities mostly moved to Makati and, eventually, Taguig City. Which makes the museum’s decision to move to Bonifacio Global City nothing but welcome news. After so many years, one of the country’s premier museums, on its 45th year, will have access to more foot traffic and will be introduced to a new audience.
It turns out the old premises of the museum has been due for renovation even before Covid hit. But the pandemic, with its lockdowns and unpredictable nature, has influenced the institution’s board of trustees to fast-track some necessary changes. Hence the decision to transfer to the Mariano K. Tan Centre in BGC, a move made possible by the Met’s board of trustees chair Joselito Y. Campos, Jr.
“We are proud to be in collaboration with some of the most brilliant world-class and homegrown creatives in undertaking this transformation for the Metropolitan Museum of Manila,” says Campos, “and we are excited to welcome our audiences to our new spaces.”
To design these new spaces in the museum’s new home, the services of Carlos Arnaiz, a New York-based Filipino, has been commissioned. Arnaiz will be the lead architect for the innovative and functional museum areas occupying three floors of the Mariano K. Tan Centre building—which is easily more than 3,000 square meters of exhibition and administrative spaces.
The museum will be an integral part of the office/commercial building, as well as of its outdoor surroundings where some of its art programs might be held. The entrance of the Met will be accessed through an open pedestrian walkway that leads to the often busy Bonifacio High Street area of shops and dining haunts.
Along with the move to change location also comes a much-needed rebranding, the better to truly herald a new era for the institution. The Metropolitan Museum of Manila will soon be represented by a new logo and the cultural destination will be referred to simply as The M.
“Bonifacio Global City has the best of everything. It is an ideal place to live and work, to shop, to enjoy oneself with family and friends,” says Dr. Jaime Laya, treasurer of the Met’s board of trustees. “Intellectual stimulation is what The M aims to add to Global City. Its permanent collection of Philippine contemporary art, and its continuing short-term exhibits will showcase Filipino and international talent in world class surroundings.”
The museum is planning to open with a number of exhibitions focusing on the development of Philippine art. "One of these exhibitions will bring focus to aspects of Philippine abstraction with which the work of the Met’s founding director Arturo Luz have been in conversation over the years," says Tina Colayco, president of the museum board of trustees. “The exhibit aims to be a close reading of the language of abstraction that developed from Philippine cubism and neorealism or non-objective painting to lead to a geometric style in abstraction."
The Metropolitan Museum of Manila, or simply The M, is near completion and is now in its fit-out phase. Opening activities will be rolled out in stages starting February or March of 2022. To help it get there, Leon Gallery will be putting up for sale a number of important artworks for the benefit of the museum through the Kingly Treasures Auction this December 4. Among the pieces up for bids are a 1980 Ang Kiukok from the Paulino and Hetty Que Collection, a 2017 Raffy Napay from the Manuel and Alice Que collection, and a 2015 Jigger Cruz from the Mario and Mimi Que Collection.
“The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is committed to reinforcing its philosophy of Art for All, and keep engaging with the art and cultural communities, stakeholders and the public,” says museum president Tina Colayco of The M's vision. “The museum sees itself being a life/art spark for people from all walks of life as a way of discovering the creative spirit innate in them, and deepening their understanding of the role of the arts in their lives.”
“Art and culture play an important role in bringing the community together,” says Doris Ho, vice chair of the museum board of trustees. “The M’s new location in BGC offers us a dynamic opportunity to make art and culture more accessible to where our audiences live and work…Hand in hand with the Bonifacio Art Foundation, The M seeks to demystify the museum from being an intimidating edifice to a space that inspires and celebrates our innate Filipino creativity, and where learning is fun.”
The artworks for auction seen here are open for viewing from November 27 to December 3, Saturday to Friday, from 9 AM to 7 PM, at León Gallery, G/F Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legazpi Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati City. The Kingly Treasures Auction 2021 is co-presented by ANCX.ph, the urban man’s guide to culture and style, and the lifestyle website of the ABS-CBN News Channel.
For further inquiries, email email@example.com or contact +632 8856-27-81. To browse the catalog, visit www.leon-gallery.com. For updates, follow León Gallery on their social media pages: Facebook - www.facebook.com/leongallerymakati and Instagram @leongallerymakati.
Photos of artworks courtesy of Leon Gallery