Manila’s National Museum – Philippines’ Historical Galleries

Manila’s National Museum – Philippines’ Historical Galleries

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It’s wonderful enough that many Filipinos turn what they see into a phenomenal masterpiece. The Philippine works of art have evolved and stored up since the country’s early days until the present era. Whether it be traditional or digital, they don’t fail to create artworks that gets popular across the nation and international. They reflect the diversity of artistic elements on the country’s culture such as, indigenous styles of the arts. As well as how these influences have refined the country’s arts. The National Museum of the Philippines is a government organization that oversees a number of national museums in the country. It has also served as the regulatory enforcement agency in the restoration and preservation of significant cultural properties throughout the Philippines. Every year, the National Museum hosts several lectures, workshops, and seminars. However, the majority of these events take place at museums in Metro Manila.

The National Museum operates three main galleries. However, the National Museums had to close their doors in the surge of the pandemic in March 2020. With museums closed for more than a year, those who were planning to visit are for sure excited to come. They started accepting visitors again in June 2021, with a limit of 100 individuals per session, per museum. Since then, art enthusiasts started flocking the galleries again. Photos of visitors expanded the exposure leading to more people coming. Foreigners also expressed support and fondness in the craftmanship and artistry that Filipinos showcase. Additionally, National Museums don’t charge entrance fee making them more accessible to everyone. Indeed, it has become a very helpful shrine for people to be introspective and release stress in the pandemic.

National Museum of Fine Arts

The old Legislative Building now houses the National Museum of Fine Arts, formerly known as the National Art Gallery. It has been immensely damaged during the World War II. The museum has gone through history and renovation to keep the building’s glory since then. You’ll see staircases at both ends of the entrance halls. The façade incorporated classical elements such as stylized Corinthian columns, ornamentation, and Renaissance-inspired sculptural forms. Open spaces on east serve as visual corridor where one can enjoy the perspectives of the surrounding urban spaces. This neoclassical framework houses works by well-known Filipino artists such as Juan Luna, Guillermo Tolentino, and Felix Resureccion Hidalgo. Moreover, National Museum of Fine Arts is one of the most popular branches within the National Museums. It is situated on Padre Burgos Avenue across the National Museum of Anthropology in the eastern side of Rizal Park.

You will also find the Spoliarium of Juan Luna here. The Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 awarded the artwork a gold medal in Madrid, Spain. Indeed, anybody who visits can see and feel the emotions and time spent on creating the iconic artwork. The sacrifice and frustration in the message that the masterpiece depicts manifests through the history. It is also one of my favorite artwork of all time. Here are what else you can find in National Museum of Fine Arts:

  • Religious Art from the 17th to 19th centuries
  • The Parisian Life
  • La Bulaquena
  • The Old House of Representatives Session Hall
  • Academic and Romantic Art
  • Academic and Neoclassical Sculpture
  • Art Prints from the Archives of the Royal Botanical Garden in Madrid
  • Classical Art from the 20th century
  • Homage to Dr. José Rizal
  • Drawings of Fernando C. Amorsolo
  • Works of Guillermo E. Tolentino
  • The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines by Carlos V. Francisco

National Museum of Anthropology

The National Museum of Anthropology was formerly known as the Museum of the Filipino People. It is a branch of the National Museum of the Philippines that houses ethnological and archaeological exhibits. Therefore, museum tells the story of the Philippines from the past, as evidenced by artifacts from its pre-history. Exhibits here focuses on the four periods of Philippine which are the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Metal, and Ceramic Age. The neo-classical architecture also flows continuously in the structure as adjacent to the National Museum of Fine Arts building. Façades are outlined with massive Corinthian columns and pilasters that rise from the second floor level. A simple pediment complements the chamfered corner entrance. Thus, making the area feel a little homey. Moreover, exterior walls have an inscribed masonry joint pattern that adds scale and texture. Indeed, so much time and effort has been invested to create intricate designs in the building.

Additionally, you’ll find the San Diego wreck, ancient artifacts, and zoology divisions in here. Here are also what you can find in National Museum of Anthropology:

First floor

  • Ifugao House / Courtyard
  • Exhibition, Editorial, and Media Production Services Division
  • Museum Foundation of the Philippines
  • Archaeology Division
  • Ethnology Division
  • Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Division
  • National Museum Library

Second floor

  • Marble Hall
  • The San Diego: 500 Years of Maritime Trade
  • Garing: The Philippines at the Crossroads of Ivory Trade

Third floor

  • Lantaka: Of War and Peace
  • Manlilikha ng Bayan Hall (National Living Treasure)
  • Lumad: Mindanao
  • Faith, Tradition and Place: Bangsamoro Art from the National Ethnographic Collection
  • Kaban ng Lahi (Archaeological Treasures)
  • Biyay: Traditional Ecological Knowledge among Philippine Negrito Communities

Fourth floor

  • Reception Hall (Changing Gallery)
  • Rice, Biodiversity and Climate Change
  • Hibla ng Lahing Filipino: The Artistry of Philippine Textiles
  • Baybayin: Ancient and Traditional Scripts of the Philippines
  • Entwined Spheres: Mats and Baskets as Containers, Costumes and Conveyors
  • Office of the Museum Services Division

Fifth floor

  • National Ethnographic Collection Repositories

National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Natural History was constructed as the Agriculture and Commerce Building in 1940. It was designed in by Filipino Architect Antonio Toledo in the late 1930s. The neo-classical architecture also flows continuously in the structure. Similarly to the other two main Branches of National Museum. It has 12 permanent galleries that showcase the Philippines’ rich biological and geological diversity. Displays of botanical, zoological, and geological specimens that represent our unique natural history, for example. A “Tree of Life” structure in the museum’s core also proudly connects all of the Philippines’ unique ecosystems. From our magnificent mountain ridges to our outstanding marine reefs. Building reconstruction using historic preservation and restoration to convert it into a space for something more began in 2013. Moreover, The recent new additions serve as the museum building’s facilities, offices and public spaces. If you enjoy animals, you’re off to a good start here.

In fact, you’ll find the skeleton of the Philippine’s largest crocodile in captivity here. Furthermore, a lot of locals and foreigners take their intagrammable photos in here. Here are what else you can find in National Museum of Natural History:

  • Philippine Biodiversity
  • Geology of the Philippines
  • Minerals and Energy resources
  • Life through time
  • Carabao Family
  • The Mossy, Motane, and Pine Forests
  • Tropical lowland evergreen rainforest
  • Fresh Water Wetlands
  • Mangroves, beaches, and intertidal zones
  • The Marine Realm
  • Our natural inheritance
  • The Shell Philippines centennial upper courtyard
  • Many more

Other Informations

Additionally, here are the important information you should know before visiting:

Contact them through: (02) 8298 1100 local 1016

For bookings and inquiries, you may visit:

The National Museum is situated in Padre Burgos Avenue 1001 Manila, Philippines

Strictly Prohibited

The following items are strictly forbidden in the galleries:

  • The following items are strictly forbidden in the galleries:
  • Art supplies other than pencils including ink pens
  • Bags and camera bags with dimensions greater than 33 x 43 cm.
  • Large items such as Backpacks, baby backpack carriers
  • Food and beverages
  • Plants, flowers, and other natural materials
  • Video cameras and tripods
  • Extra-long umbrellas
  • Gifts and packages that have been wrapped
  • Animals/Pets
  • The following items ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR CHECKING
  • Flowers or plants
  • Food and beverages

Helpful Guidelines


Every item is subject to a security inspection. The National Museum reserves the right to refuse any item for inspection. In the morning and afternoon sessions, the checkrooms stop accepting items one hour before closing. The National Museum is not responsible for items that are misplaced, damaged, or go unclaimed.


When visiting the National Museum, there is no dress code. However, they would like to request that visitors dress appropriately, taking into account any sensitivities that other visitors may have.

You are allowed to photograph the permanent collection for personal, non-commercial, and non-distributional use. They ask that you refrain from posing for photos in front of exhibitions or from blocking the way of other visitors in hallways and other public spaces. Moreover, tripods, monopods, and selfie sticks are not permitted.


The museum is available to those with limited mobility. However, due to space constraints, wheelchair use is forbidden in special exhibitions. Furthermore, those with other impairments should contact their museum guides to make special arrangements.


There is also a free street parking nearby the National Museum buildings. Ask the guards stationed at the gates or entrances to instruct you to available parking spaces. Moreover, their facilities are only available to museum visitors.

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