Art has the remarkable power to carry us across time, incite our emotions, and connect with history, culture, and the human experience. If you’re a museum enthusiast like me, then the National Museum of Fine Arts in Manila is a destination you simply can’t miss when visiting the vibrant heart of Metro Manila. I’ve visited the National Museum of Fine Arts on multiple occasions, and each visit is a journey into the heart of the Philippines’ artistic soul.
A Glimpse of Artistic Grandeur
The National Museum of Fine Arts houses an unparalleled collection – showcasing the most important paintings, photographs, prints, drawings, sculptures, and memorabilia in the history of the Philippines.
With 29 galleries and hallway exhibitions, we can explore the finest 19th-century Filipino masters, National Artists, leading modern painters, sculptors, and printmakers. Among the treasures, one masterpiece reigns supreme – Juan Luna’s “Spoliarium.” This iconic painting, awarded a gold medal at the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 in Madrid, Spain, serves as both a source of national pride and an enduring symbol of artistic excellence.
A Journey Through Time
But the National Museum of Fine Arts is not just a repository of artistic treasures; it’s also a living witness to the Philippines’ rich history. The museum we know today was once the Old Legislative Building, which played host to various legislative bodies throughout the nation’s storied history. Constructed between 1918 and 1926, the building itself is a masterpiece of neoclassical architecture, exuding grandeur and historical significance.
During World War II, in February 1945, the Japanese forces transformed the building into their stronghold, leaving indelible marks and defensive installations. However, the spirit of the building endured, and it was rebuilt in 1949, retaining its original footprint and four-story height, albeit with a more modest facade.
A National Historical Landmark
Recognizing the enduring historical significance of the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Philippines declared it a National Historical Landmark on September 30, 2010, through Republic Act 10096. This designation, granted by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, underscores the building’s importance as a custodian of the nation’s heritage.
National Museum of Fine Arts Galleries
- 2nd Floor -
Gallery I - Luis I Ablaza Hall
Religious Art from the 17th to 19th Centuries
Gallery II - Friends for Cultural Concerns of the Philippines, Inc. Hall
Via Crucis of an Unknown Bohol Master
Gallery III - Ramon and Milagros Del Rosario Family Hall
Gallery of Paintings of the Philippine Colonial Tradition of Sacred Art
Gallery IV - Fundación Santiago Hall
Gallery of Paintings of the Philippine Colonial Tradition of Portraiture
Gallery V - Dr. Jose Rizal Hall
Inspiring the Nation | Dr. José Rizal: The National Hero in Art
Gallery VI - Far East Bank and Trust Company – Andrés and Grace Luna de San Pedro Memorial Hall
Gallery of Paintings of Los dos Pintores Juan Luna and Felix R. Hidalgo
Gallery VII - Special Exhibition Hall
Larawan at Litrato: Foto-óleo and Picture Portraits in the Philippines (1891-1953)
Gallery VIII - Silvina and Juan C. Laya Hall
Gallery IX - Early 20th Century Philippine Portrait Hall
Gallery X - Museum Foundation of the Philippines (MFP) Hall
Gallery XI - Society for the Preservation of Philippine Culture (SPPC) Hall
Gallery XII - Security Bank Hall
- 3rd Floor -
Gallery XIII - Vicente and Carmen Fabella Hall
Gallery XIV - Pillars of Philippine Modernism
Gallery XV - E. Aguilar Cruz Hall
Gallery XVI - Philippine General Hospital Hall
Gallery XVII - Special Exhibition Hall | Dedicated to Women’s Art
Closed during our visit
Gallery XVIII - Pillars of Philippine Modernism
Gallery XIX - Pillars of Philippine Modernism
Gallery XX - Placuna placenta: Capis Shells and Windows to Indigenous Artistry
Gallery XXI - Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) North Hall
Gallery XXII - International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Hall
Gallery XXIII - Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) Northwest Hall
Gallery XXIV - Philam Life Hall
- 4th Floor -
Gallery XXV and XXVI - The Longest Journey
Closed during our visit
Gallery XXVII and XXVIII - Special Exhibition Hall
Gallery XXIX - Philippine Modern Sculpture Hall
Old Senate Session Hall
National Museum of Fine Arts FAQs
Who can visit the museum?
The museum is open for everyone.
What are the operating hours?
The National Museum of Fine Arts is open from Tuesdays to Sundays (except religious holidays) from 9AM to 6PM. Arrive at least 30 minutes before closing time.
How much is the entrance fee?
Admission is FREE!
How to book a visit?
Walk-in visitors are welcome. If you’re 20 pax and more, they’ll require you to book in advance online.
Where to reserve slots for big groups?
- You can make reservation here at least five (5) days prior to the day of the planned visit. – http://reservations.nationalmuseum.gov.ph/
- You can also send booking request via email to email@example.com.
- Follow up your booking request on (02) 8298-1100 local 3000
Please observe proper museum behavior. Kindly take note of the following policies:
- Baggage Deposit — Baggage counters are available upon entry. Prohibited items must be deposited at the counters.
- Prohibited Items — The following items are NOT permitted inside the museum buildings:
- Big bags, luggage and other bulky items larger than 33 x 43 cm (13 x 17 in)
- Backpacks (except for baby backpack carrier should be carried in front)
- Food and beverage
- Tumbler, bottled water
- Hats and caps
- Video camera
- Selfie stick, and tripod
- Headphones and headsets
- Art materials and toys
- Shades and dark sunglasses
- Plant, flower or organic material
- Wrapped package, gift package
- Dress Code — Kindly dress appropriately. Extremely revealing clothes are prohibited.
- Photography — Taking pictures is allowed inside the museum premises. However, the use of camera flash is strictly prohibited. Commercial/Professional photography, photo shoot and media coverage should secure necessary permits.
- Videography — Personal videography is limited to specific areas and galleries. Commercial/Professional videography, live streaming, vlogging, video shoot, and media coverage should secure necessary permits.
- Strictly no touching of exhibits (paintings, sculptures, and other objects in display)
- Please keep your voices low while inside the galleries. No shouting allowed
- Do not lean on glass showcases and pedestals, and do not step on the platforms.
- DO NOT PLACE ANY ITEMS such as cellphones, cameras, and bags on the exhibits and pedestals.
- Running, dancing, and playing inside the museum are not allowed.
- Sitting and lying on floors are not allowed.
- Staircase should be free from obstruction. Staying and sitting along the staircase is prohibited.
National Museum of Fine Arts Contact Information
National Museum of Fine Arts
Opens Tuesday – Sunday 9AM to 6PM
Address: Padre Burgos Ave, Ermita, Manila, Metro Manila