Every 18th of May, the world celebrates the International Museum Day to raise awareness on the role of museums and the subjects they support—arts, culture, environment, heritage, history, and natural sciences—and encourage more audiences into the museums. This year’s theme, “Hyperconnected museums: new approaches, new publics,” highlights the relationship of technology and innovation to the enhancement of museum experience over the years and the years to come.

The “Tree of Life” where the panoramic elevator is contained, and its connecting curved bridge to the fifth floor. Photographed by Lawrence Carlos

As the International Council of Museums (ICOM) puts it, “It is impossible to understand the role of museums without taking into account all the connections they make. They are an inherent part of their local communities, their cultural landscape and their natural environment. Thanks to technology, museums can now reach way beyond their core audience and find new publics when approaching their collections in a different way: it can be the digitalisation of their collections, adding multimedia elements to the exhibition or something as simple as a hashtag that allows visitors to share their experience in social media.”

View of the newly-opened National Museum of Natural History façade from Rizal Park. Photographed by Lawrence Carlos

READ MORE: The DNA of the National Museum of Natural History

In the Philippines, it is safe to say that the recent years have become fruitful for these institutions. For one, the National Museum and its components have opened to the public for free, while culture and the arts gained more exposure among the Filipinos, especially the younger generation.

Hence, in celebration of the International Museum Day, the museums we love—and have been waiting for—open their doors wider for the public. From the privately owned museums to the government-owned, here are the museums the BluPrint team visited on #MuseumDay, which you can visit today and always, for free and for a fee.

Gallery IX: Mangroves, Beaches and Intertidal Zones | Photographed by Lawrence Carlos

1 Yuchengco Museum

While the Yuchengco Museum is the team’s last stop, it’s a great place to start if you’re new to museums. For a small museum, it surely is packed with interesting artifacts and art pieces from the Yuchengco family’s history to your favorite traditional and contemporary artists. During our visit, National Artist for Visual Arts Fernando Amorsolo’s works were on display, as well as a few pieces by BenCab, Jose T. Joya, H.R. Ocampo, and more. Prints, paintings, sculptures, and installations are but a few of the artifacts exhibited throughout the museum.

Left: Artifacts from the Sino-Filipino Legacy: The ATY Art Collections Right: “Hong Kong Street Scene” by National Artist for Visual Arts Fernando Amorsolo in Masters Gallery | Photographed by Patrick Kasingsing
Left: The Yuchengco Museum’s first floor showcases Fernando Amorsolo’s works, as part of the Masters Gallery, in which one will find two identical paintings. The floor above is a continuation of the Masters Gallery highlighting many other celebrated artists. Right: View from the top floor of the museum, featuring the “Suspended Garden” installation on the right, and the Masters Gallery below. | Photographed by Patrick Kasingsing

Fee: PhP 100.00 (Adults); P50.00 (Students,  PWDs and senior citizens); Free (YGC employees with ID)
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM
Location: RCBC Plaza, Corner Ayala Avenue and Senator Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati, 1200 Metro Manila

READ MORE: Building the National Museum of Natural History’s Tree of Life

2 Cultural Center of the Philippines Galleries

The CCP is a government owned and controlled corporation established to preserve, develop and promote arts and culture in the Philippines. It holds workshops, seminars, anthologies, exhibits (both permanent and changing), symposia as well as competitions and awards in performing, cinematic, literary, visual arts, and new media arts.



Fee: Free for all
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9 AM to 6 PM
Location: CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd, Malate, Pasay, 1307 Metro Manila

3 National Museum of Fine Arts

Museum-hopping won’t be complete without touring the National Museum Complex. The team dropped by the National Museum of Fine Arts, housing a huge collection of paintings and sculptures by classical Filipino artists such as Juan Luna, Félix Resurrección Hidalgo and Guillermo Tolentino.

Left: The ten-panel painting by Carlos “Botong” Francisco was commissioned by Antonio J. Villegas, Mayor of Manila (1962-1971), designed especially for the Bulwagan ng Katipunan (now Bulwagang Gat Antonio Villegas) at Manila City Hall, and completed in 1968. The painting was loaned by Mayor Joseph Estrada to the National Museum. Right: “The Art Protis on exhibition represents work from 1970 to 1980, conceived and designed by Alcuaz in Brno, Barcelona and Manila and eventually brought to Vlněna factory in Brno for execution. His audacious view of art making, resulting in expressing his perspectives on reevaluating art, continues to be admired by his peers and followers. In these Art Protis, Alcuaz mastered creating a painterly abstraction with an unusual medium. Having lost primacy over many decades, Art Protis is now seeing a revival and have the makings of gaining popularity among contemporary artists and new audiences.” (Text by Ceres Canilao/NM FAD) | Photographed by Patrick Kasingsing

On the day of our visit, we witnessed the great “Spoliarium” by Juan Luna and other artifacts, including the ten-panel, 60-meter oil on canvas painting, “Filipino Struggles through History” by Carlos “Botong” V. Francisco (1912-1969). Among the on-going exhibits in the museum is “The Art Protis of Federico Aguilar Alcuaz” exhibition, which will be closing on May 27.

Fee: Free for all
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM
Location: Old Legislative Building, Padre Burgos Ave, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila

4 National Museum of Anthropology

In between the National Museum of Fine Arts and the star of the day, National Museum of Natural History, the team made a quick look at the Museum of Anthropology. The museum houses the wreck of the San Diego, ancient anthropological and archeological artifacts, and zoology divisions.



Fee: Free for all
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM
Location: Agrifina Circle, Rizal Park, Manila

READ MORE: The National Museum of Natural History – How it began

5 National Museum of Natural History

The star of the day and the most-awaited National Museum of Natural History, is the team’s first stop, but we saved it for the last spot on the list so we can appreciate it better. The museum that opened on the same day as the celebration of the International Museum Day, houses geological, botanical, and zoological collections, including the majestic “Tree of Life,” that graces the courtyard of the museum and contains the scenic elevator allowing visitors a 360-degree view of the inside and access to the top floor galleries.

Looking up the “Tree of Life” structure | Photographed by Patrick Kasingsing

While some of the galleries are yet to be completed and opened, museum-goers are welcome to explore Gallery IX (Mangroves, Beaches and Intertidal Zones), Gallery X (The Marine Realm), Gallery XI (Our Natural Inheritance), and Gallery XII (Temporary Exhibitions). The corridors and the courtyard are also dotted with artifacts, including the replica of Lolong, the longest saltwater crocodile ever recorded. Lolong’s skeleton hangs from the ceiling of the Ayala Hall.

national museum of natural history bluprint
The Ayala Hall serves as home to Lolong’s skeleton hanging from the honey-comb pattern ceiling. Photographed by Lawrence Carlos

Aside from the collections, the architecture of the museum is a sight to behold as well. The retrofit and adaptive reuse of the former Department of Tourism Building (originally the Agriculture and Commerce Building) that was initiated in 1998, with the approval of then president Fidel V. Ramos of the National Museum Act and started in 2014, is truly note-worthy and momentous.

READ MORE: The National Museum of Natural History Inauguration

As Chairman Ramon R. Del Rosario, Jr. stated in his message on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the National Museum, “The National Museum of Natural History now stands as a remarkable example of what can be achieved through persistence and a spirit of cooperation and generosity, in line with an established vision that can be appreciated by every Filipino.”

Museum-goers sit by the Tree of Life structure and the staircase at the courtyard. Photographed by Patrick Kasingsing

Fee: Free for all
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM
Location: Teodoro F. Valencia Circle, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila

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