Philippine Museums

Experience a fun, educative and incredible tour by visiting any of these fabulous museums. Within a museum’s halls of history lies the grandness and richness of human culture and its legacy. Forget those compulsory museum trips back in school—now is the time for that worthwhile experience. Among the world’s finest, here are the Philippines’ best:

1. University of Santo Tomas Museum of Arts and Sciences

Location: University of Sto. Tomas, Espana Boulevard, Manila

Starting out as Gabinete de Fisica, an observation room of mineral, botanical and biological collections for science courses especially in Medicine and Pharmacy in the 17th century, the University of Santo Tomas Museum, known to be the oldest existing museum in the Philippines boasts of a vast collection. Preserved for over 300 years, the collection expanded to include cultural pieces and artifacts.

A large part of the UST Museum’s pieces are cultural artifacts indigenous to the Philippines, categorized into tribal musical instruments, three-dimensional artifacts and petrified animals. It even includes the chair Pope John Paul II sat in during his 1981 visit to Manila, leftover pieces from old Intramuros churches, gold pieces found all over the Philippines, household wares, weaponry, brass and metal crafts and burial jars.

2. Ayala Museum

Location: Makati Ave. cor. Dela Rosa St., Makati City

Located at the heart of the country’s business district, Makati City, the Ayala Museum is one of the most important and most visited private museums. It houses a large number of rare and priceless cultural and historical items not found elsewhere in the country.

For over 40 years, its handcrafted dioramas of Philippine history scenes have impressed visitors. But the Ayala Museum really has so much more to offer. The Maritime Vessels Collection of finely crafted ship models paying tribute to ancient boats is worth every visit. The museum’s fine arts collection, which includes paintings by Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo, and Fernando Zobel, representing Philippine art from the late 19th to the 20th century, is not one to be missed. It also holds a small collection of ethnographic artifacts of Filipino minority communities that include tools, weapons, ritual objects, clothing, body ornaments and musical instruments.

3. Rizal Shrine

Location: Calamba, Laguna

Being one of the most frequented historical and tourist sites in Laguna, Jose Rizal Shrine in Calamba has an average of 270,000 visitors annually. The museum is a replica of the ancestral house where Jose Rizal was shaped and molded and who would later become the finest expression of his race.

With the house destroyed during World War II, President Elpidio Quirino ordered the reconstruction of the national hero's home through the supervision of National Artist, Architect Juan Nakpil. It was inaugurated in 1950. One of the known features of the Spanish-Colonial house is a deep well that has become a “wishing well” for tourists and visitors. It is home to various memorabilia, books, manuscripts and artworks that belonged to the Philippine national hero.

4. The Mind Museum

Location: JY Campos Park, 3rd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City

The Mind Museum is the first world-class science museum in the Philippines that makes everything you didn’t bother learning in grade school suddenly so fascinating.

It has five interesting galleries namely: (1) The Story of the Universe: Its Beginning and Majesty; (2) The Story of the Earth: Its Story across the Breadth of Time; (3) The Story of Life: The Exuberant Varieties of Life; (4) The Story of the Atom; The Strange World of the Very Small; and (5) The Story of Technology: The Showcase of Human Ingenuity—presenting science through five main stories.

All the exhibitions are originally designed by Filipino artists and fabricators who worked closely with both local and international scientists.

5. National Museum of the Philippines

Location: Taft Ave, Ermita, Manila, Metro Manila

The National Museum, officially the Museum of the Filipino People, in Rizal Park, Manila was originally designed as a public library in 1918 before it was inaugurated on July 16, 1926. In 2003, renovations started to transform it into the National Art Gallery.

The National Museum is the premier institution and repository of the Filipino heritage. Within its walls are National Art Gallery, Planetarium, and the regional museums. This massive museum offers an enriching visual experience for its visitors with its extensive archaeological, anthropological, botanical, geological and zoological artifacts and diverse artworks by local artists.