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“Great looking building.” 3 of 5 stars
Review of National Museum

National Museum
Rizal Park at Padre Burgos St., Manila, Luzon 2004, Philippines
632 527 12 15
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Ranked #18 of 69 Attractions in Manila
Type: Historic Sites, Art Museums, History Museums, Museums
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Attraction details
Owner description: This grand exhibit house features the country's most historic works of culture and national heritage, including the paintings of heralded Philippine artist Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo.
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Top Contributor
131 reviews 131 reviews
76 attraction reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
108 helpful votes 108 helpful votes
“Great looking building.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2014

The museum contains many of the Philippines' signature works of art including Juan Luna's. Ok I have never heard of him but ask any Filipino and they adore his work. One of the rich members of the gentry who undertook the equivalent of the Grand Tour of Europe etc. His work was heavily Influenced by the impressionist. Lots of room dedicated to Filipino artists. The staff are polite and you are allowed to take photographs. Your ticket price also allows you to enter the sister museum next door. Tip on the way out to collect your bag ask the receptionist to phone the security guard to flag you down a taxi as it can be difficult in this area to find one.

Visited November 2014
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Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Admire Filipino Art”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 28, 2014

I love the National Museum. The classic building serves as home to the magnificent masterpieces of Filipino artists. I could get lost inside, literally and figuratively, admiring paintings, sculptures, and relics from way back.

You could really get close to the paintings (except The Parisian Life), enough to really observe and admire the strokes and palettes. It's an interesting way to learn more about the life Filipinos had, up til today, through the paintings. I love the Rizal room, especially cause the original artwork from the One Peso coin is there. I've seen more guests who would even sit in front of the Spolarium though, and just stare at it for minutes, which is amazing.

I prefer the National Arts Gallery over the Museum of the Filipino people though (that's the other building). Some halls are great, while some needs more research (dates and background). But overall, it gives a charming interpretation of the almost forgotten Filipino culture.

I remember having a guided visit to the museum although I was still so young at that time. The last two times I was there, one in December (with friends) and the other, around March (as a couple, with a foreigner friend), there were no guides to help explain for people who might have questions. I feel that the museum could use guides who love Filipino culture and arts so people would be able to appreciate more.

Visited March 2014
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Makati, Philippines
13 reviews 13 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
“A worthy home for Filipino Art”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2014

On our visit to the National Museum at the Old Legislative Building, we simply walked in, didn't request for a guide, and had a great time seeing the sights at our own pace.

Juan Luna's Spoliarium is of course the National Art Gallery's biggest attraction in more ways than one. Another noteworthy masterpiece with the gallery is The Parisian Life, also by Luna. However, there is so much more to see here. We were impressed with the various collections that spanned centuries of Philippine art to be found in various well-organized halls.

Aside from all the art, it was great to see the effort taken to maintain the museum's historic neo-classical building as well. It's a work in progress (the facade was being repainted, and repairs were taking place in certain areas), but things seem to be heading in in the right direction. The restoration of the Old Senate Session Hall is certainly a fantastic job, and visitors can now marvel at its lofty, pre-war glory.

Visited November 2014
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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Enjoyable historical tour”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2014

Remembered the food hall best, the hall had framed pictures of local dishes, quiet and clean. Overall enjoyable and educational visit. Outside the museum is Rizal park, a nice walk in the evening absorbing local activities there.

Visited June 2014
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13 reviews 13 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
“one big SHAME to all the great and honourable Filipino artists.”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2014

I'm a fan of art and museums in general. Having studied art in London, visiting lots of different museums as much as we could was definitely part of our training. It is good practice actually, to visit different museums in different countries because not only did you normally find breathtaking masterpieces but you also learned a lot more about each country's culture by the contents and curation of each museum. After my recent visit to this museum a few days ago however, I could not resist but write this review because I believe that something really has to be done to improve this place! This introduction is to establish the point that I've seen a LOOOT of world class museums and their policies and quality of exhibit and even fees and this is to say that sadly, the National Museum of the Philippines is not one of them. Currently, it is FAAAAR from world class -- to sum it up here in the intro and to be further explained later : It is old and falling apart, poorly curated, empty, pretentious, boring, terrible/rude inconsistent customer service and policy making and it is one big SHAME to all the great and honourable Filipino artists.

1. This is the only "National Museum" in the world that closes randomly on random dates with no specific schedule, closed on Mondays, closed after it rains, closed before 10 am (late morning) and closed by 5(early afternoon).Honestly its easer to sight a shooting star in the night sky with less effort and probably easier to fit into a wormhole than fit into this museum's lazy opening schedule.
They seem to think a little bit too highly of Manila traffic which is world class on its own- and not in a good way. Combine Holiday traffic and road construction and sometimes even light rain(which causes floods immediately in some areas) and you should expect to spend a fraction of your day stuck in traffic, especially heading to this part of town. Not very touristy friendly, and not really as fun as the "It's more fun in the Philippines" campaign promises. A shame to Filipino artists because instead of proudly exhibiting their works for all the world(via tourists) to see, It's actually making it much harder for them and making artworks more inaccessible. I bet a thousand times more tourists would be able to see the famed "Spolarium" if you put it in a mall instead.

2.Very little parking space and no taxi stand. This is what will first greet you if you finally manage to survive the traffic and get this place in one piece. There's a gate and then small driveway and that's pretty much it. I came by car and was one of the lucky 7 cars to find parking but seriously, good luck to the tourists in arriving by taxi, good luck finding another taxi in time before you spend another 2 hrs stuck in traffic by rush hour. Not efficiently planned and not access friendly yet again.

3.Step into its relatively impressive facade (painted a tacky shade of creamy yellow matched with white and grey cement and a terracotta red roof, and you get greeted by 3 - 4 rude and unfriendly reception grunts who know nothing about art, and resort to typical ignorant blaming game when questioned about the museum's policies. On the door there is a poster listing the items you are not allowed to bring inside
:"Firearms, food, bottled water, and ballpens are not allowed inside galleries." (list taken from their website) and it actually says no tripods and dslr cameras too.
and they apparently failed to list : No plushies, no toys and no purses at all while you're at it!
--honestly? who made this rule? it's not a very clever one either. I'm not sure what the policy makers were on about when they were making the rules but according to the rude set of unfriendly reception grunts : "stuffed toys ballpens and all other items may damage the artworks and exhibits"
--Right, because small plushies turn into the hulk and yes, ballpens, I've seen how some assasins kill multiple men with only a ballpen.. no water-- see the exhibit and get dehydrated at your own risk.
No purses, bring your mobile phone and wallet with you but leave your ipad and other valuables such as passport and chequebooks and other stuff with a complete total stranger in a foreign country. -- This museum is seriously preventing people from seeing the works of Filipino artists, I feel bad for the artists. Or maybe this museum is just trying to be snobbier than the Louvre, than the MoMA, or the National gallery in London and everywhere else around the world. A little note to help bring this museums big head down to earth.. the museum is empty.. there's really just a BIG empty hall more or less 400sqm with just the Spolarium on one wall cordoned 3 feet off in each direction, then another religious painting - unimpressive and lacklustre compared to the Raphael(s), Michelangelo(s) and every other master in the world. there's 30 feet between bot paintings and no furnitures or other exhibits in the room - so right. ballpens and plushies will REALLY damage these masterpieces being as "big" as they are. The other rooms are smaller closer to the size of visiting exhibits in foreign museums. Not so much to see, smells stuffy and old, poor lighting compared to other museums, and then there's also a room full of native artifacts -- pottery and fossils, then a room full of wooden statues of saints depicted the way they were killed- (decapitated, bleeding, with thorns, etc) not my thing, its a bit creepy combined with the dim lighting and musty old smell of a long kept room.

4.P.150 (roughly $3-$4) entrance fee. With customer service as rude and as inconsistent as the waiter service of Chinese restaurants in some countries, you're $3 or $4 is probably better spent on a nice hotdog on a bun instead or maybe a scoop of gelato ( not that Manila is known for it - but there are lots of places offering gelato) and here's why: After being submitted to the illogical policies of this museum and, determination being your strong suit, you still decide you want to see the museum and cooperate by leaving all your things, happiness and excitement at the counter and pay the P150 peso fee, you soon get assaulted by the other innocent guests mocking your unnecessary cooperation because you will find that every other visitor in the museum is carrying their own bag, backpack, purse and fanny pack filled by (you probably guessed it) ballpens and other small things that are deemed very dangerous to this environment.
The flaw here is not in your willing to cooperate- or not.. It lies in 2 things. Stupid policies and untrained grunts who know nothing about art or HOSPITALITY made to work here as receptionists who greet every single person who wants to visit the museum. How can a tourist attraction treat its customers and sightseeing tourists as potential hazards to its exhibits? Museum visitors are people who appreciate culture and they have proper manners, they are not circus monkeys who will wreak havoc if not put on a leash. Terrible customer service. - And the grunts pathetically explaining that they will get scolded by management if they allow bags inside because it can be viewed from cctv records -- lets give it the benefit of the doubt that this place which is about to fall apart even has working clear cctvs! Then I honestly hope that they do get scolded and even get fired for allowing everyone else to bring in their backpacks purses and fanny packs except for tourists and people like me.

5.After going to so much trouble getting to the place and complying to stupid rules at the beginning, it is almost impossible to continue viewing the rest of the gallery with happiness, enjoyment or excitement even. This (empty) gallery has managed to win the hostility and contempt of its visitors towards it and a bad light on all the Filipino masters because they are no longer in good spirits. Which is a big shame because it achieved the exact opposite of what it was meant to do, to give honour and recognition to the best artists of its country and instead it just their works inaccessible and makes the whole experience terrible.

6.To conclude, if you did not end up walking out of the museum like we, and a few other reviewers did, this museum, as it is, is a shame to the country and a big waste of time. It proves itself to be incompetent, ignorant and it almost really seems as if the people who are in charge don't really care about it or its fate. Pretentious renovation with no real improvement or modernisation, only a fresh coat of paint. The place doesn't even have an elevator, it only has very old stairs and very old dirty windows, very old shoddy tiles and very poor lighting.

7. As a service to all those who want to see Juan Luna's masterpiece, The Spolarium, which also happens to be the national painting of the Philippines, I will save you the horrible experience of suffering through traffic and bad customer service by posting its photo here - taken during my recent visit just before I walked out in anger. View it instead, in the air-conditioning and comfort of your own home, or the nice ambiance of the beach or a roof-deck or wherever else you'd like to be which is almost certainly better than trudging to that sham of a gallery and the nerve it has calling itself NATIONAL gallery. My only other regret(apart from visiting the museum) is that i should have taken the photos of the rude receptionists and other tourists with all their purses as proof to my experience so that I could post them here too.

TIP: Head on over to the Ayala Museum in Makati adjacent to Greenbelt Malls where they have much nicer exhibits and world class exhibits by international artists. Another interesting museum to visit is the Pinto Art Gallery in Antipolo area and if you have the time and resources for a bit of a road trip, the BenCab museum in Baguio is very nice. Actually almost anything is nicer than the National Gallery.

Hope i was able to help a lot of innocent tourists in saving them from the terrible service of this pretentious place and I also hope that this museum gets its act together for the sake of all the artists who deserve the honour and recognition due them.

Visited November 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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