Free Admission to the National Museum: Part 1 - The National Art Gallery

05 May 2016

I've always wanted to revisit the National Museum with my kids.  I used to be able to visit it when I worked at the Senate since at one point, it was where the Upper House held their sessions and I'd go around at idle moments.  For the month of May, since it's National Heritage Month, the National Museum has offered "Free Admission" which made it a good time for an educational/cultural trip.  The "Free Admission" allows you to enter the National Museum (the National Art Gallery),  the Museum of the Filipino People (old Department of Finance Building) and the National Planetarium and all other regional museums in the country.  The National Museum is located at P. Burgos Drive, Rizal Park, Manila.

This may well turn out to be a lengthy post so bear with me.  There are a number of ongoing exhibits in the National Museum and each section boasts of an exhaustive supply of historical and modern art. But do remember, that exhibits may change in time and without further notice from the Museum so it's still better to check with them if you plan on future outings.

All visitors have to go through the Main Entrance Hall.  This is where you'll register and leave your bags at their check-in counter.  You will only be allowed to carry your wallet, phone and camera with you.  This is for your convenience as well as the safety of the exhibits (to prevent bulky bags from bumping or dislodging the exhibits). For other guidelines, please view their Facebook Page.

I'll narrate based on the pictures that we took from the Exhibits that we visited.  Of course, you can follow your own route based on the map of the Museum (below). You just have to ask for one because they don't readily give it.  Also, exhibits shown on the map may not be updated or reflective of the current date, so just use it as a general layout of the Exhibit Halls.


  • THE HALL OF MASTERS - This is the Main Gallery that you will see as you come in from the Main Entrance Hall.  Here, you will find Juan Luna's SPOLIARIUM and Felix Hidalgo's EL ASESINATO DEL GOBERNADOR BUSTAMANTE.  We were lucky enough to have come at a time when the Museum wasn't as crowded as usual. 

  • Gallery of Paintings of Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo. Artwork in this Exhibit came from the collection of Andres and Grace Luna de San Pedro, acquired by the Far East Bank and Trust Company for donation to the National Museum.

  • Dr. Jose Rizal Exhibit naturally contains sculptures and paintings of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal

  • There were also Galleries related to Religious and Sacred Art throughout history.  The first picture was a painting of St. John the Baptist and Jesus.  The 2nd picture was a painting of St. Thomas Aquinas (I'm a Thomasian from UST!) and the last pictures are of a "Retablo" or a wooden side altar of the Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino from Dimiao, Bohol.

  • The Guillermo Tolentino Exhibit featured the works of Guillermo Tolentino, National Artist of the Philippines for Visual Arts - Sculpture. Pictured below are the Commonwealth Triumphal Arc (top), Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo busts (lower left) and Presidents Elpidio Quirino, Ramon Magsaysay and Ferdinand Marcos (lower right)
  • We also went to the World War II which featured paintings that portrayed the Philippines during the Japanese Occupation, the Liberation of the Philippines and the destruction of Manila.  Some of them can be gruesome though so guide your children.


  • The 3rd Floor can be accessed through stairwells and elevators depending on where you want to go.  
  • The Old Senate Session Hall was currently used for the Jacques Ferrier architectural exhibit called "A Vision for the Sensual City".
  • The exhibits on this floor are mostly contemporary and modern art particularly of National Artist for Painting Vicente Manansala which features collections from the GSIS and those commissioned by PhilamLife for its building on UN Avenue.  

  • We didn't get a chance to take pictures of the numerous abstract works on display along the hallways and the galleries as there were now a huge throng of people milling about.  The paintings by Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, particularly of the paintings of the influential people in the country are a must see :) 

 Points to Ponder:

  • It is best to visit the Museum as soon as it opens to make the most of the visit.  You have the time to go around and really absorb the culture and the history.  The experience can diminish when there are a number of people milling about.
  • The layout of the floors are simple enough but may get confusing when you're inside the galleries and you become immersed in the paintings and other works of art.  Ask for a copy of the map so you can easily re-orient yourself.
  • We took about an hour and a half going around the 2 floors and we didn't even see everything!
  • Plenty of restrooms available and they're clean and well-maintained.  
  • You'll also notice different temperatures for different rooms depending on the exhibits on display.

Well, that ends our trip to the National Museum, also known as the National Art Gallery.  Our next stop, the Museum of the Filipino People or the National Museum of Anthropology, just next door at the Old Department of Finance Building.

For larger pictures, I created a photo slide for easier reference here.