National Museum undergoes extreme makeover

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2011 06:36 PM | Updated as of May 05 2011 09:56 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The National Museum is undergoing an extreme makeover.

The museum embarked on a renovation program this year to improve facilities and galleries.

"We are devoting this year to updating our facilities, modernizing our galleries, and enhancing the appeal of the museum to the general public," said museum director Jeremy Barns.

Various exhibits will be regrouped and refashioned into 24 galleries on 2 floors--one for art, and one for archaeology.

The National Art Gallery, home to iconic paintings such as Juan Luna's "Spoliarium", Felix Ressureccion Hidalgo's "Assassination of Governor Bustamante", and those of National Artists Fernando Amorsolo, Vicente Manansala, Arturo Luz and Benedicto "Bencab" Cabrera, will make space for the works of the Thirteen Moderns of the 20th century. It is housed at the old Congress Building.

Philippine archaeology and anthropology treasures will be moved from its current display at National Museum's Museum of the Filipino People to the National Art Gallery. The exhibit will chronicle history as far back as 60,000 years ago.

"Too often, we just assume that nothing really much happened before Magellan, but people who come to the Museum are really surprised at the richness and diversity of society before Spanish contact," Barns said.

The main building used to house the Senate session hall in modern times and the Philippine Congress during the term of President Manuel L. Quezon. This hall, designed in 1918 by American architect Daniel Burnham, "is being restored to its early-20th century grandeur as a function venue," said the National Museum in a statement.

Aside from re-curating collections, the museum will also upgrade museum shops and building retrofits for disaster resiliency.

It will also provide skills training for museum guides, and revamp its website [www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph] so it can offer virtual tours and comprehensive gallery documentation.

Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim encouraged people to visit museums.

"Museums can diversify our tourist draw to appeal to the history and culture-minded, and a revitalized National Museum may very well lead the way. We enjoin locals and visitors to proceed to these museums after their relaxing tour of Rizal Park for an enlightening glimpse of Philippine history and culture. Let us advise you though that a one-day tour of these museums is not enough to really appreciate their wide-ranging and priceless collections, which actually belongs to the Filipino nation," Lim said.

This May, which is Heritage Month, the National Museum has organized an exhibit showing an ancient wooden balangay boat excavated in Butuan, Agusan del Norte.

Entrance is free at the National Art Gallery while renovations are ongoing, while that at the Museum of the Filipino People is P100. Walk-in visitors on Sundays get in for free.

Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. The museum is closed on Mondays.