A day at the National Museum
COSMIC RHYTHM - Impy Pilapil (The Philippine Star) - May 30, 2016 - 12:00am

The museum, in a nutshell, is a nation’s repository for culture, history and progress. In all formality, it is an institution for preservation meant to both inform and inspire.

At the heart of Manila stands the National Museum — perhaps the largest, most comprehensive collection of humanities and heritage in the country. The building’s architecture alone lends greatly to a grandiose ideal. But on this day, it is a source of elation for me. A joyful air of excitement seemed to take over the usually austere and formal ambience as a long queue of enthusiastic people of all ages waited patiently to enter.

The undeniable thrill of the unexpected prevailed over the crowd — as it was quite obvious that many, if not all of them, were here for the first time.

For hardworking citizens doing their best day in and day out to make ends meet, a trip to the museum would not be on top of their list of priorities. Sadly, a little culture or history weighs lightly against the more essential of needs and wants.

But for National Heritage Month, public admission to The National Museum is free, and with this initiative we see how the once seemingly disinterested public is now visiting the museum in droves. They were all eagerly awaiting their turn to admire the national treasures and learn more about who they are.

Children enjoyed the experience immensely, eyes wide and bright as they made their way from the main hall to the galleries. Meanwhile, the viewing galleries were full of visitors from all walks of life. The elderly and their grandchildren, mothers with toddlers, curiosity and awe abounded.

Young adults and teens would all fall silent as they entered each gallery, only resuming their animated conversations in the hallways between exhibitions. The different color schemes for the galleries and how each exhibit was presented, brought out a sense of reverence, facilitating mutual respect for other viewers.

As the day progressed and even more people poured into the museum, I also noticed additional organized groups. The National Museum launched an outreach program that gave guided tours for different barangays from in and around the metropolis. It is a truly commendable effort to culturally enrich the citizenry and elevate the public’s awareness of their relevance in history. It makes me hopeful for the future and this is exactly what people need more of.

Since the reinvigoration of the National Museum, 25 new galleries have been opened. On view are never-before-seen paintings, sculptures, religious artifacts and antiquities from our rich past.

The National Museum is now the haven for Philippine culture and heritage that it was always meant to be: one of the last remaining bastions for our true national identity and pride.



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