Articles Special Article Top Museums and Galleries to Visit in the Philippines

Top Museums and Galleries to Visit in the Philippines

Art has the ability to transform and refine your taste and appreciation for other design mediums like music and interior design. Kickstart your art appreciation journey by visiting one (or all!) of these unique local museums and galleries.

Society informs culture informs art informs design. Art is a reflection of the environment's longstanding traditions and experiences, and in turn inspires design mediums like interior design and fashion to directly affect the way people live. Using this logic, those interested in interior design and decor can benefit greatly from consuming all forms of art.

And what better way to consume and appreciate art than by heading to the finest museums and galleries in your locality? While online and virtual galleries have risen in popularity during the pandemic, there's still something magical about seeing art in person and in motion.

Fortunately, public places have begun to open and museums in particular have been forgiving to post-pandemic activities. So if you're feeling comfortable and want to begin your art appreciation journey, there's no better time than now to start visiting those galleries and taking all that culture in! Here's a list of unique art spots in the country for your next excursion:

National Museum of Fine Arts

Photo of the National Museum of Fine Arts from government agency's website

If you haven't been to any of the museums in the National Museum Complex, you're definitely missing out. Within the complex are different museums for natural history, anthropology, and fine arts. The National Museum of Fine Arts, in particular, is home to 29 galleries and exhibitions comprising of works by National Artists, leading painters and sculptors from the 19th century.

Visit for: The Spoliarium, what else?

Metropolitan Museum of Manila

Person taking a photo of the interiors of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila, nicknamed the Met, houses the prized art collections of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the museum. This includes pre-historic pottery and gold, colonial Hispanic art, and modern and contemporary pieces that are on rotation and on exhibition basis. Texts describing the artworks are served in Filipino and English, making the museum exhibits accessible to a larger audience.

Visit for: pre-colonial native pottery, BenCab art pieces without heading to Baguio

Ayala Museum

Old person viewing a painting inside Ayala Museum

The Ayala Museum is a privately-run art and history museum that houses some of the largest collections of historical artifacts and pre-colonial cultural objects in the country. Newly renovated in 2021, the museum champions Philippine history and iconography all while providing space for local and international contemporary fare.

Visit for: Recurring exhibits on indigenous textiles, access to the Filipinas Heritage Library

Museum of Contemporary Art and Design

Art installation inside the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design

De La Salle - College of Saint Benilde has a not-for-profit museum and gallery space that houses some of the best contemporary art in the country. The Museum of Contemporary Art and Design has made the curations of renowned artists like Kaloy Olavides and Gary-Ross Pastrana as well as of newbie exhibitionists from the educational institution democratic by offering free access to the public.

Visit for: Contemporary art exhibits by the talented students, informational panel discussions by the faculty and other subject experts

Lobby of Ateneo Art Gallery from museum website

The Ateneo Art Gallery, established in 1960, is considered as the first museum of Philippine modern art. Located inside the Areté building of Ateneo de Manila University, the modern art museum is home to over 500 artworks spanning from abstract expressionism to post-modernism styles, from key Filipino post-war artists like Anita Magsaysay-Ho, Arturo Luz, and Fernando Amorsolo.

Visit for: the largest collection of social realist art from the 1970s and 1980s Philippines, the curation of Ateneo faculty member and famed historian Ambeth Ocampo

Pintô Art Museum

Exterior of the Pintô Art Museum

Pinto Art Museum is a modern and contemporary art gallery located in a botanical property in Antipolo, Rizal. The museum, owned and managed by art connoisseur Dr. Joven Cuanang, houses contemporary and surging local art from a diverse group of artists and curators.

Visit for: the mission-style architecture by Antonio Leaño, and the iconic “We Are The Kids That Your Parents Warned About” art piece

Inside the Sining Makiling Gallery

Nestled in the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus in Laguna is the Sining Makiling Art Gallery, a gallery which features the works of notable alumni and local artists. While visual art and media are prominent in the space, the Sining Makiling Gallery also provides an avenue for poetry and other mixed media installations to be exhibited.

Visit for: art-science convergence exhibits that showcase the educational excellences of the academic institution

Galleria Taal

Exterior of Galleria Taal

Galleria Taal in Batangas is an exhibit and gallery of early photographs and antique cameras dating as far back as the 1800s. Situated in the heritage town of Taal, the museum is housed in an ancestral home and boasts photographs from the different colonization eras of the Philippines up until the 2 momentous EDSA revolutions.

Visit for: the unbeatable collection of vintage cameras and a glimpse of heritage architecture

Laguerta Home of the Vintage Glasses Museum

Gate and outdoor sign of the Laguerta Vintage Glasses Museum

A humble museum for an extremely niche market settles in Bacolod City. The Laguerta Home of the Vintage Glasses Museum has a collection of upwards of 2,000 depression glasses or translucent glassware from the United States and Canada — from decanters, Victorian lamps, and commemorative plates. These decorative objects and pieces of history were collected by Tomas Casiano, a florist and designer from Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, over the course of 20 years.

Visit for: amber, aquamarine, and vaseline collections from 1904 United States

Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art

ILOMOCA is the first art institution in the Iloilo region devoted to contemporary and modern art. Located in the Casa Emperador Building, the art museum and gallery shares the same space with the soon-to-open Brandy Museum which will be the city's first. ILOMOCA houses the largest collections of art in the Visayan area.

Visit for: the commemorative statue of  Gen. Martin Teofilo Delgadoby Spanish sculptor Gines Serran-Pagan

Aga Khan Museum of Islamic Arts

Exterior of Aga Khan Museum

Situated in Marawi, Lanao del Sur, Aga Khan Museum of Islamic Arts is home to the Islamic arts and Moro culture. It hosts the largest Filipino Muslim collection in the Philippines. Some of the displays you'll be able to see in this museum are miniature pagoda-type mosques, indigenous musical instruments, and replicas of the torogan.

Visit for: local Islamic artwork that you won't be able to see in any of the Manila curations