National Museum of the Philippines

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The National Museum of the Philippines is the institution that manages the Philippines' archaeological, ethonographic, anthropological and visual art collections. As such, it operates the country's National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Anthropology, and National Museum of Natural History, which are all located in the National Museum Complex in Manila.

In 1998, the National Museum became the regulatory and enforcement agency of the Philippine government in the restoration and safeguarding of valuable cultural properties, sites and reservations throughout the country.

The National Museum has branches in different parts of the country.


In 1901, the American colonial government's Philippine Commission established the Insular Museum of Ethnology, Natural History and Commerce under the Department of Instruction. In 1903, the museum was transferred to the Department of Interior and renamed Bureau of Ethnological Survey, which entered the Philippines in the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The bureau was subsequently abolished after the exposition and the Philippine Museum was established to supplant it.

The Philippine Museum existed as such until 1933, when the Philippine Legislature restructured the institution; its Division of Fine Arts and History was placed under the National Library, while its Division of Etymology under the Bureau of Science. The museum's Division of Anthropology, including its archaeology, ethnography, and physical anthropology sections, along with the Bureau of Science's natural history sections, were reorganized into the National History Museum Division. This division was put under the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce in 1939.

When the Japanese occupied the country during World War II, the divisions were brought back together to form the National Museum. However, a large part of the museum's collection in the Old Legislative Building was destroyed by American artillery during the war. The building was restored through American funding after the war and the museum's operations subsequently resumed.

In 1966, President Ferdinand Marcos signed Republic Act No. 4846 or the Cultural Properties and Protection Act,[1] which gave the museum the designation as the lead agency in the protection and preservation of the nation's cultural properties. The museum is expected to carry out its mandate through the census, study, and declaration of such properties, and the conduct and regulation of archaeological exploration or excavation in historical or archaeological sites.

In 2019, the National Museum was renamed National Museum of the Philippines hrough Republic Act No. 11333. The law also provided for the classification of the museum as a government trust attached to the government, for no other than budgetary reasons, preserving a degree of independence and autonomy. It also mandated the establishment of regional museums in each of the country's administrative regions.[2]


National Museum of Fine Arts

Formerly called the National Art Gallery, the National Museum of Fine Arts is housed in the original Legislative Building. Urban designer Daniel Burnham's 1905 plan for Manila intended the building to function as a public library. Work on the building began in 1918 and was finished in 1921.

The architecture of the building was characterized by classical features and Renaissance-inspired sculptures.[3] It was inaugurated on 16 July 1926. Though designed to be earthquake resistant, the building was significantly damaged during World War II. It was rebuilt after the war, but with fewer details and ornamentations.

National Museum of Anthropology

Formerly known as the Museum of the Filipino People, the National Museum of Anthropology, houses the Archaeology Division, Ethnology Division, Exhibition, Editorial and Media Production Services Division (EEMPSD), Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Division (MUCHD), and Museum Services Division (MSD). The building housing the museum is the former headquarters of the Department of Finance.

National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Natural History is housed in the building that used to serve as the headquarters of the Department of Tourism.[4] The museum opened in October 2017. It features the iconic structure Tree of Life.

Regional Museums

The National Museum has also established numerous regional museums outside Metro Manila. These regional museums are found in Angono (Rizal province), Padre Burgos in Vigan (Ilocos Sur), Kabayan (Benguet), Kiangan (Ifugao), Magsingal (Ilocos Sur), Puerto Princesa (Palawan), Butuan in Caraga region, Tabaco (Albay), Fort Pilar in Zamboanga City, Boac (Marinduque), and Jolo (Sulu). In 2018, regional branches in Basco in Batanes and Iloilo city in Iloilo province were established. A regional branch in Cebu is being developed, while a branch in Bolinao (Pangasinan) was permanently closed. Branches in Banton town in Romblon, Romblon town in Romblon, Monreal town in Ticao Island, Maitum in west Sarangani, Jolo in Sulu, Marawi city in Lanao del Sur, Guian in Eastern Samar, Davao city in the Davao region, Mati in Davao Oriental, Cabanatuan city in Nueva Ecija, Tabuk in Kalinga, Aparri in Cagayan province, Malaybalay in Bukidnon, Cotabato city in Maguindanao, Hungduan in Ifugao, Rizal town in Palawan, Bulalacao in Mindoro, and Siquijor town in Siquijor are also being eyed by the National Museum. The re-establishment of a regional museum in Bolinao is also being eyed.[5][6]

Other notable buildings

The National Museum hosts its Western Visayas (Region-6) Regional Museum in the former Iloilo Rehabilitation Center, a jail facility that was abandoned in 2006 when the inmates were transferred to the new BJMP location. Built in 1911, the old Iloilo Provincial Jail is an Important Cultural Property - a recognition of its exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance to the Philippines. NMP also runs a satellite office for Western Visayas at the Old Jaro Municipal Hall, a designated heritage site, in Iloilo City which was designed by architect Juan Arellano.


  1. Ferdinand Marcos, New Filipinism: The Turning Point, State of the Nation Message to the Congress of the Philippines, January 27, 1969 [on-line] accessed from
  2. Duterte signs law giving more powers the National Museum of the PH » Manila Bulletin News.
  3. (2008) The Imperial Tapestry, American Colonial Architecture in the Philippines. University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. ISBN 9789715064743. 
  4. DOT building to be transformed into Museum of Natural History. Lifestyle Inquirer
  5. Info.
  6. Happy New Year from our flagship museum... – National Museum of the Philippines. Facebook (December 31, 2017).