National Museum of the Philippines

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National Museum of the Philippines

The National Museum of the Philippines is the government-established institution that acts as the repository and guardian of the Philippines' natural and cultural heritage. It houses such national treasures as the Manunggul Jar, Juan Luna's Spoliarium and artifacts recovered from the sunken galleon the San Diego, as well as other valued artworks and artifacts.

The Museum's goal is to instil cultural consciousness and a sense of pride and nationalism among Filipino citizens through its collection and its activities covering the sciences, education and culture. It was founded in 1901 as an ethnography and natural history museum, and eventually housed in a building which was designed in 1918 (former Old Congress Building) by the American Architect, Daniel Burnham, which remains the main museum building. Over the years, the National Museum has broadened its concerns in the arts and sciences. Today, the Arts, Natural Sciences and other support divisions are housed in the main building and while Anthropology and Archaeology Divisions are housed in the adjacent former Finance building, now called The National Museum of the Filipino People, in the Agrifina Circle of Rizal Park.


The National Museum began as the Insular Museum of Ethnology, National History and Commerce under the Department of Public Instruction in 1901.

In 1916, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 2572 organizing the Philippine Library and Museum. The Division of Ethnology continued to function under the Bureau of Science. In 1926, Act No. 3437 passed by the Philippine Legislature recreated the National Museum of the Philippines as part of the Department of Agriculture and National Resources. It then consisted of the Ethnology Division and the Division of History and Fine Arts. The Division of Natural Science was not included in the organization.

In 1933, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 4007 in which the National Museum was abolished, its activities, functions and materials distributed among the following: 1. The Division of Fine Arts and History to the National Library; 2. The Ethnology Division to remain with the Bureau of Science; 3. The Division of Anthropology which included archaeology, ethnography and physical anthropology and the other sections of natural history of the Bureau of Science were organized into a National Museum Division with Dr. Leopoldo B. Faustino as its first chief.

In 1939, the division, renamed the Natural History Museum Division was made by Commonwealth Act No. 453 an independent unit directly under the office of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce. The Natural History Museum Division was abolished during the Japanese occupation, but after the liberation of the Philippines in 1945, it was reestablished under the Department of Agriculture and Commerce and placed under the Office of the Executive Secretary. In 1951, Executive Order No. 392 transferred the National Museum to the Department of Education.

The reorganization of the Department was implemented in 1988. The National Museum's organizational structure and its functions were improved and expanded. The Archaeology Division was established as a section of the Anthropology Division. Two existing divisions were renamed and their functions were expanded: the Restoration and Engineering Division and the Archaeological Sites and Branch Museum Divisions.

In the same year, two Presidential Proclamations on culture were issued by President Corazon Aquino, following the establishment of the 1987 Constitution which gave priority programs to the arts and culture. These were Presidential Proclamation No. 269, proclaiming the period from 1988 to 1998 as "The Decade of Centennials of the Filipino Nationalism, Nationhood and the Philippine Revolutionary Movement" and Presidential Proclamation No. 270 authorizing the National Museum to conduct a National Educational and Fund Campaign for the period June 12, 1988 to June 12, 1989.

On 26 January 1996, President Fidel V. Ramos signed Administrative Order No. 246 that created a Presidential Committee to oversee the rehabilitation of the National Museum complex. Earlier in October 1994, the President instructed the Secretaries of Finance and Tourism to prepare for the eventual turnover of the Finance and Tourism buildings to the National Museum.

In December 1995, the Department of Finance moved to the Bangko Sentral ng PilipinasComplex and turned over the Finance building to the National Museum. The Department of Tourism was scheduled to turn over the Tourism building by the end of 1997. Then, in mid-1996, the nearby Senate Building was turned over to the National Museum, which provided the institution with three buildings within the Agrifina Circle.

On February 12, 1998, President Fidel V. Ramos approved and signed Republic Act No. 8492, also known as the 'National Museum Act of 1998' that established a National Museum System and provided for its permanent home, among others.

In June 1998, the new National Museum was opened with the formal inauguration of the National Museum of the Filipino People in the former Finance building. Initially two exhibits, now permanent exhibits in the Museum, were opened: The Story of the Filipino People, and the world-class travelling exhibit, The Treasures of the San Diego, which was returned to the Philippines after its world tour of Paris, Madrid, New York and Berlin. The formal inauguration was one of the main events in the Philippine centennial celebrations.


National Museum Official Site



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