It has been said that the importance of museums lies in their role as the nation’s memory bank, reminding people and preserving evidences of developments in their culture and glorious past. Indeed, museums keep history alive by making artifacts accessible, and explaining their relevance to the present and future generations. Many museums in Quezon City are thus more than just about a show of antiques tracing the history of the nation. They are also devoted to specific topics of interests, with interactive learning activities for visitors to enjoy.
The Mowelfund Film Institute is also known as the Pambansang Museo ng Pelikula. Aside from being a repository of memorabilia and artifacts, the museum is considered a landmark for the film industry because it reminds visitors of the Philippine cinema’s glorious days—particularly its touted “golden age” during the 1950s and 60s—when Philippine movies were considered the best and were shown all over Asia. Visitors will find displays of vintage movie posters, gowns worn by movie stars, and film-making equipment like old video cameras. A room is also dedicated to who is considered the “king” of Philippine cinema, Fernando Poe, Jr. Aside from viewing the exhibits, the museum allows interactive learning through viewing of classic, hard-to-find films as well as participation in training seminars on basic film techniques.
The UP Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center was named after statesman Jose B. Vargas who served as Executive Secretary to President Manuel Quezon. Through his years of service, Vargas was able to acquire a collection of memorabilia and historical artifacts about the Philippines, along with numerous souvenirs from his various political engagements and trips. The collection was originally displayed in a private museum within the premises of Vargas’ residence in Mandaluyong. In 1978, he donated his collection to the University of the Philippines, his alma mater.
The museum claims the unique distinction of being the only art repository in the country embracing the entire range of Philippine artistic creativity from the 1880s to the 1960s. It houses various artworks of famous Filipino painters like Juan Luna, Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo, Lorenzo Guerrero, and Fernando Amorsolo, as well as sculptors like Guillermo Tolentino and Graciano Nepomuceno. Its library contains more than 3,000 books, more than 1,000 volumes of periodicals and other important documents about the Philippines. The ground floor is for the changing exhibits while the second floor is the home of the permanent exhibit. Book launchings, recitals and concerts are also held at the museum.
The historical site of Tandang Sora is home to an important museum, the Museo Recoletos. It is an ecclesiastical museum where relics and memorabilia of the Augustinian Recollects are displayed. The museum is divided into different sections like bells, furniture, crucifixes, utensils, altars, tabernacles, among others. The highlight of the museum is the dark image of the antique Blessed Virgin, Nuestra Señora de la Salud. The image was brought to the country by the first Recollect missionaries way back in 1606. Aside from the permanent collection, the museum also holds other exhibits and art workshops for children.
Another ecclesiastical museum is the Iglesia Ni Cristo Museum and Gallery which showcases the history of the religious sect and the memorabilia of its founders. Inside the museum are posters and dioramas reflecting the sect’s beginnings, culture, rituals and practices. It is located on the grounds of Iglesia’s Central Office—also its largest house of worship—in Commonwealth Avenue.
Located inside the Central Bank complex in East Avenue is the Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The museum is home to the Bank’s collection of currencies. Coins, notes, medals and other similar items tell the evolution of the country’s legal tender, giving visitors a deeper understanding of the development of Philippine economy. The exhibit is divided into the different historical periods of the country, showing the story of money, beginning from the era of pre-colonial barter trading in the Philippines when people used different items that serve as money, and ending with the display of modern coins and notes. The collection includes rare foreign currencies and paintings from the Bank’s art collection as well. The busts of the governors of the Central Bank are also on display. A gallery tour is offered by the museum. Visitors can see the different phases of making coins and banknotes as well as the printing of security documents like passports. At the end of the tour, visitors can buy commemorative money and other souvenir items from the souvenir shop.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines Museum exhibits the rich history of the armed forces and its heroic contributions to the Filipino nation. The early development of the Armed Forces can be traced back to the Tejeros Convention, where different revolutionaries united under one rule to overthrow the Spanish colonial government. Captain General Artemio Ricarte headed the Philippine Army at that time. The museum’s indoor exhibit is composed of different martial weapons, uniforms of the different branches of the AFP, and paintings and dioramas depicting the history of the AFP. There is also an outdoor exhibit where bigger military equipment and weapons are displayed including tanks and aircrafts. Avid collectors can visit the gift shop that sells books and souvenirs. A similar museum is also located inside the nearby Philippine National Police compound where the law enforcement agency’s history is showcased.
The Ateneo Art Gallery, located on the ground floor of the Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University, is considered the first museum dedicated to the collection of modern Philippine art, showcasing the ingenuity of Filipino masters including Fernardo Amorsolo and Fabian dela Rosa. The gallery’s collection started in 1961 when painter and art scholar Fernando Zobel de Ayala donated over 200 artworks to make them accessible to students. Over the years, the collection grew to more than 500 artworks representing Filipino artists as well as foreign masters like Rembrandt, Picasso, Dali and Goya.
The permanent collection includes drawings, sculptures, paintings, prints, photographs and posters, woodcuts, engravings, lithographs etchings, and other graphic-arts media. The gallery is also a venue for limited-run art exhibits of various Filipino and international artists, and lectures by different artists and art enthusiasts. The Art Management course under the Fine Arts Department has tied up with the gallery to train the students in different areas of the course. In 2004, the Ateneo Art Gallery established the annual Ateneo Awards, considered by contemporary artists to be one of the most prestigious art competitions in the Philippines.