I decided to escape the May heat by visiting the national gallery hosted in the National Museum building. To be clear - this is not the Museum of the Filipino People hosted in the old Finance Building but the National Museum building that presently is essentially a museum of art/National Gallery. As pointed out by a previous reviewer, the galleries are not well signposted and you may spend some time walking around the building to find the galleries that are open - but it is a grand building to wander through. Many galleries are 'under construction' and the renovations will probably take many years but this does not stop it being worth a visit.
The main gallery showcases some masterpieces from Hidalgo and Luna - with some pieces stretching to the ceiling of the grand hall and dwarfing the visitors. I prefered the figure studies of Luna to the French landscapes of Hidalgo that were on show but the sombre tones and message of the Spolarium with dead gladiators being dragged off stole the show for me.
Other galleries told the history of Filipino art with a variety of works using different media from past and present artists. This included one room dedicated to Arellano who was the architect of a number of Manila landmarks from the 1920s and 1930s. Whereas one might be overcome by the volume of artworks on display in many museums/galleries, the number of pieces here was modest and allowed one to appreciate them and the visit all the more.
The intention of escaping into airconditioned comfort was only partly achieved - one still had to walk between galleries - but this was still a worthwhile visit and did not cost anything (I believe the intention is for it to be free until the renovations are more complete).
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