Continuing from where we left off in our previous post. After having explored the natural history part of the museum it was time for us to cross the street and head off into the Museum of Fine Arts. The museum is not to far away, just a quick hop across the street and voila! Another museum to explore.
The nice thing about the two national museums is that when you pay for the ticket in either of the museums you gain access to the other one. So that’s a big plus since you don’t have to go through the hassle of buying tickets again.
As you enter the museum you are greeted by a magnificent entrance hall. Beyond that your eyes will feast on the different paintings by the Filipino masters from the time of the Spaniards up to the present.
Going beyond the entrance hall, the first stop any visitor should take is the hall where they keep the Spoliarium of Juan Luna. Inside we got to have a one-on-one experience with the Spoliarium. A large monolithic painting satirizing the abuses of the Spaniards against the Filipino people. It’s a powerful place where you could just simply prop yourself on the floor and gaze at it until the mysteries of the world come to you.
After the hall dedicated to the Spoliarium, we once again found ourselves doing our own tour, we flitted to and fro around the different exhibits that used to be (probably) the offices of our dear old senators.
Each exhibit that we went to had a particular theme, usually they would be arranged according to the medium used: sculpture and painting. But some halls would be reserved for a national artist or the works of Jose Rizal.
In some halls we met some familiar names such as: BenCab, Napoleon Abueva, Guillermo Tolentino, Fernando Amorsolo, Juan Luna, and Hidalgo. These halls dedicated to the masters was quite enriching, there were incomplete works and some interesting artifacts from their workshops. In many ways the halls dedicated to the masters was an enriching experience, we had the usual oohs and aahs as we saw familiar works on display and some unusual ones as well.
After having gone inside most of the the exhibits, another highlight of the trip would have to be the old senate session hall. At that time we were lucky enough to enjoy another exhibit. However, the exhibit required dark lights and thus we were unable to really enjoy the session hall in all of its glory.
All in all, the Fine Arts side of the National Museum was far more interesting. The craftsmanship and the work of our artists were really put up for the world to see. However, like its counterpart, it lacks a guide for first timers. But what the museum lacks in informational guides, they make it up with a large number of interesting artworks and sculptures.
But if you’re really not into the whole artsy bit of the museum, just sitting down in front of Botong Francisco’s “The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines” with a group of friends or with your own group and just taking in the magnificence of the place would make the visit very worthwhile.
The National Museums are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am – 5pm. Museum admissions on Sunday are usually free!