Museums in Manila to Visit for a Fix of Culture and History
Perfect for International Museum Day!
by Marky Ramone Go | May 17, 2019
Just when you think you’ve explored everything Manila has to offer, you’ll be delighted that there’s more of the city’s heritage to discover. Thanks to numerous museums found in the Philippines’ capital city, travelers and local residents wanting to learn more about Manila’s olden times will find more than they are looking for.
Here are the museums in Manila to visit for a fix of arts, culture and history.
National Museum of the Philippines
The National Museum of the Philippines is the umbrella government organization that operates and manages numerous national museums in the Philippines. Its three main galleries the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Anthropology and the National Museum of Natural History are located adjacent each other near Luneta Park. Must-sees among the impressive collections are the works of the finest Filipino national artists Juan Luna, Guillermo Tolentino and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, all housed inside the National Museum of Fine Arts.
Admission is free
Museo de Intramuros
Church artifacts dating back to many centuries ago are housed inside this 3-storey building that evokes a feel of an ancestral Filipino home. The museum’s collection includes ecclesiastical paintings and pieces of various sizes that includes an old karosa, wooden reliefs, religious sculptures, the Immaculate Concepcion exhibit, and a lot more.
Entrance is free
National Museum of Natural History
This museum is housed inside a neoclassical building designed by Filipino Architect Antonio Toledo. It was originally constructed in 1940 as the Agriculture and Commerce Building. Reconstructed after World War II based on the original design, it became the site of various Government offices until it became the National Museum of Natural History in 2018. Inside, visitors will have a great time scooping up new knowledge in all the galleries showcasing geological, flora and fauna specimens. Plus make sure to spend time to marvel at the museum’s towering atrium and impressive architectural patterns.
Entrance is free
Destileria Limtuaco Museum
Everything you need to know about the company’s almost 170-year history are housed inside this ‘bahay na bato‘ located inside Intramuros. Bought in 1979 by then CEO Julius Limpe, it was transformed into a museum only in 2018. Visitors will learn the intricate process of brewing whisky and rum from fermentation to aging and bottling. There is also a fascinating display of bottles of Destileria Limtuaco’s flagship spirit products dating back to pre-World War II. Known by many for their White Castle Whisky, you will be amazed to discover the numerous other local craft spirits they have such as the classic kung-Fu sioktong – a herbal wine, Manille Liqueur de Calamansi, Intramuros Liquor, San Juan Lambanog, Palawan Rum and many more.
Entrance fee: 100 pesos for normal tour / 200 pesos for a tour and 6 shots of any Destileria Limtuaco’s craft spirit products.
Metropolitan Museum of Manila
Located within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex in Roxas Boulevard, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila showcases world-class galleries displaying the evolution of Philippine art since its inception to the modern-day period. Varying temporary exhibitions can be viewed on the ground floor while the permanent galleries can be seen on the second floor.
Entrance is 100 pesos while guided tour is 500 pesos.
Museum of Contemporary Art and Design
Located in the ground floor of Benilde School of Design and Arts Campus, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design features galleries showcasing avant-garde art and other modern ground-breaking exhibits. This museum exudes the message that art should be accessed by everyone willing to address “not only a cross-section of social classes, but also of knowledge.”
Admission is free
Aside from promoting and preserving Philippine arts and Culture, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is also tasked to develop and create more awareness about Philippine art. As part of this program, the NCCA allots gallery space in the lobby of their Intramuros office for up-and-coming artists. The artworks exhibited here takes on different themes every month.
Entrance is Free
Living up to their slogan “where learning begins and fun never ends“, Museo Pambata caters to uplifting the imagination and enriching the knowledge of children. Situated near Rizal Park Hotel and Roxas Boulevard, Museo Pambata boasts of the following themed rooms namely: Environment and Under the Sea, Old Manila, Career Options, I love my Planet Earth, Marketplace, My Body works and Bata sa Mundo.
Entrance is 250 pesos for children 2 years and above. (Manila residents, teachers and museum staff can get in for free)
Bahay Tsinoy is another museum inside Intramuros that was constructed in 1999 through the efforts of Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran Inc. Today, the museum displays old documents and historical pieces depicting the lives, history and heritage of ethnic Chinese in Manila.
Entrance is free
San Agustin Church Museum
Housed right beside the San Agustin Church in Intramuros, this museum slash former monastery of the church, displays a vast collection of religious relics, sculptures and artworks dating back to Spanish colonial period. Make sure to enter the crypt at the ground floor where the tombs of National Artist Juan Luna and Pedro Paterno can be found. Through the rich collection of the museum, visitors will learn the storied history of the Augustinians and their invaluable contributions to our history. A visit here will surely satisfy your quest for art and history knowledge.
Entrance is 200 pesos / 160 pesos for senior citizens and students
Most of these museums are also part of ikotMNL’s eight-hour “Grand Manila Special Day Tour”, which includes cultural trips to Binondo and Malate, and the six-hour “Manila, My Manila!” Tour, which also takes you to historical spots in Intramuros, Binondo, and Quiapo. ikotMNL is a tourism campaign launched by the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC). Check out their tours and guide to Manila here.