Missed the free admission promo of National Museum? Well, good news, National Museum is extending their free admission promo for the entire month of June. If the May promo commemorated with the National Heritage Month, June will pay tribute to the upcoming celebration of our Independence day and also the birth month of our national hero, Jose Rizal. On top of it, the museum will also open two important exhibition for this month including the Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Living Treasures) [an exhibition featuring their gifts to the nation of art, artifacts and memorabilia] and “Remembering Joya” exhibition (an exhibition to commemorate with the late National Artist Jose Joya in his 85th anniversary). Now that the promo is extended, you now have one good reason to hit this place. National Museum is one huge place to explore so today I’m listing down 12 of the things you should explore when visiting the National Museum.
Probably one of the biggest painting you can find in this musuem. Spoliarium is a masterpiece created by Juan Luna. It measures four meters in height and seven meters in width. The painting basically depicts the bodies of dead gladiators being dragged from a Roman arena. This is one of the first work of art that will welcome the visitors.
2. The Old Retablo From Bohol
The Luis I. Ablaza Hall houses religious Art from the 17th to 19th centuries and one of the most interesting highlights in this room is the old retablo recovered from an old church of Bohol. The wooden retablo along with other religious sculptures were particularly taken from the Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino, Dimiao, Bohol.
3. Sculptures of Isabelo Tampinco
One of the most dominant work of art that can be seen in this Museum are the academic and neo-classical sculptures created by Isabelo Tampinco. Tampinco is known for his various works for churches including the famous facade of Manila Cathedral, the Old Senate hall, carvings inside the Church of San Ignacio in Intramuros, High relief on the molave door of the Santo Domingo Church and more. His sons Angel and Vidal followed in his craft and their works are also featured in the museum.
4. Arts of Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo
Juan N. Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo were both considered as masters of the 19th century. A gallery in this museum is dedicated entirely of their works. Some of the notable fine arts in this area includes the famous Governor Dasmariñas and La Barca de Aqueronte by Hidalgo; The Parisian Life, La Bulaqueña by Luna and more.
5. Sculptures and Paintings of Jose Rizal
There is also a gallery in the museum that is entirely dedicated to our national hero. This gallery features the work of art created by Jose Rizal himself and paintings and sculptures dedicated to him. One of the most interesting work of art here is the terra cotta sculpture made by Rizal when he was exiled in Dapitan, Zamboanga. This sculpture aptly named as “Mother’s revenge” depicts the image of a mother dog attempting to battle against a huge crocodile after taking her child. This piece symbolizes the martyrdom and the exploitation of the indios by the colonizers.
6. The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines
There is also a hall in the museum dedicated to The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines, a set of four large paintings by National Artist Carlos “Botong” V. Francisco . They were specially commissioned for the entrance hall of the Philippine General Hospital in 1953. Declared a National Cultural Treasure in 2011, these important works are on indefinite loan to the National Museum by the University of the Philippines to secure their preservation for future generations. Botong is also the muralist behind famouse artwork such as the First Mass in Limasawa and The Martyrdom of Rizal which were both displayed in the museum too.
7. Drawings and Unfinished Paintings of Fernando Amorsolo
Another gallery in this building is dedicated to the country’s first ever National Artist, Fernando Amorsolo. Amorsolo was known for his oil paintings of rural life made in the classical style. He also made a number of commissioned portraits of individuals and families at the peak of his career (including an Unfinished Portrait of a Lady displayed in another gallery along with some of his masterpiece). This gallery in particular showcases over 100 drawings by Amorsolo, who made a series of black-and-white pencil and ink sketches and oil studies of his subjects prior to making the final artwork.
8. Sculptures of Guillermo Tolentino
This gallery is dedicated to another National Artist and one of the most renown Filipino Sculptors in history, he is no other than Mr Guillermo Tolentino. This gallery will showcase some of his famous sculptures and memorabilia. This includes bust statues of Manuel Quezon, Emilio Aguinaldo and more. It also includes the famous Commonwealth Triumphal Arch.
9. Manuel Roxas Memorabilia
Aside from that huge Statue that will greet the visitors upon entering the museum, there is also a hall dedicated to the former president. It showcases an old flag that was used during the President’s inauguration, magazine clippings, presidential documents, books and other materials related to him. There is also an area where you can watch a documentary about him.
10. International Rice Research Institute Series by Vicenta Manansala
In 1962, shortly after the IRRI research facility in Los Baños was established, the Institute commissioned Manansala to paint two mural-sized pieces. One was installed at the Institute’s cafeteria and the other in its dining room. Now, the paintings are now displayed in the National Museum. Manansala is also known for other works like Planting the First Cross, Madonna of the Slums and more.
11. Old Senate Session Hall
One of the most interesting highlights of the Museum is the Old Senate Session Hall. This Hall was originally designed to be a library in the early 1920s during the American colonial period, when the architect Juan Arellano revised the plans of Ralph Harrington Doane in order to convert the building to the seat of the legislature.
12. The Spiral Staircase
If you are looking for an Instagram-Worthy shot, there is no better place in this building to shoot other than the spiral staircase. The building itself is already a masterpiece and this creative spiral staircase is definitely an eye catcher!