National Museum of the Philippines
Pambansang Museo ng Pilipinas
Agency overview
FormedAugust 12, 1887[1]
Preceding Agency
  • Museo-Biblioteca de Filipinas
JurisdictionPhilippine arts and cultural development
HeadquartersNational Museum of Fine Arts, Padre Burgos Avenue, Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila, Philippines
14°35′12″N 120°58′52″E / 14.58667°N 120.98111°E / 14.58667; 120.98111
Annual budget₱537.44 million (2021)[2]
Agency executives
  • Jeremy R. Barns, Director-General
  • Andoni M. Aboitiz, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees
Parent departmentDepartment of Education
National Commission for Culture and the Arts

The National Museum of the Philippines (Filipino: Pambansang Museo ng Pilipinas) is an umbrella government organization that oversees a number of national museums in the Philippines including ethnographic, anthropological, archaeological, and visual arts collections. From 1973 until 2021,[3] the National Museum served as the regulatory and enforcement agency of the government of the Philippines in the restoring and safeguarding of significant cultural properties, sites, and reservations throughout the Philippines. The mandate has since been transferred to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.[4]

The National Museum operates the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Anthropology, and the National Museum of Natural History, all located in the National Museum Complex in Manila. The institution also operates branch museums throughout the country.

The National Museum also established and operates regional museums across the Philippines: National Museum Eastern-Northern Mindanao (Butuan), National Museum Central Visayas Regional Museum (Cebu City), National Museum Western Visayas (Iloilo City), National Museum Western-Southern Mindanao (Zamboanga City), and National Museum Ilocos (Vigan City), to name a few.


Casa de la Moneda which hosted the museum-library of the Museo-Biblioteca de Filipinas

Spanish era

The first predecessor to the current National Museum of the Philippines organization was the Museo-Biblioteca de Filipinas which was established by royal decree by the Spanish colonial government in the Philippines on August 12, 1887. Its first museum-library opened at the Casa de la Moneda along Cabildo Street on October 24, 1891. It later moved to a building along Gunao Street in Quiapo before it became defunct sometime around the onset of the American occupation of the Philippines in 1900.[5]

American era

The American-supervised Philippine Commission established the Insular Museum of Ethnology, Natural History, and Commerce under the Department of Public Instruction on October 29, 1901 through Act No. 284 to replace the museum-library. The Insular Museum was founded to complement the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes which was later renamed as the Bureau of Ethnological Survey. After the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, the Insular Museum was renamed as the Philippine Museum. The Bureau of Ethnological Survey was abolished as a separate bureau and was reorganized as the Division of Ethnology under the Bureau of Education in 1905. It was subsequently moved to the Bureau of Science in 1906.[6]

In 1916, the organization of the Philippine Museum underwent another overhaul. Through Act No. 2572, the Philippine Library and Museum was created through the merger of the Division of Ethnology and the Fine Arts Division of the Philippine Museum. The Philippine Museum's Natural History Division was retained under the Bureau of Science.[6]

The National Museum of the Philippine Islands would be established on December 7, 1928 through Act No. 3477. It was placed under the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It was abolished in 1933 by Act No. 4007. The Division of Fine Arts was placed under the Philippine Library and Museum (now National Library of the Philippines) while the Division of Ethnology was placed under the Bureau of Science. The National Museum Division was created from the merger of the Division of Ethnology and the Natural History Division. The National Museum Division was renamed as the National History Museum Division with the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce named as its parent agency via Commonwealth Act No. 453 in 1939. The Division was later merged to the National Library's Division of Fine Arts to become the National Museum under the Office of the Executive Secretary.[6]

World War II

The Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II brought the Natural History Museum Division and the National Library's Fine Arts Division back under a single organization, but the museum lost a large part of its collection during the Liberation of Manila of 1945 when the Old Legislative Building and the Bureau of Science Building was destroyed. The organization which resulted from the divisions' merger was named as the National Museum and was placed under the Office of the Executive Secretary.[5] The Legislative Building was later restored.

Contemporary era

Historic Marker of the Philippine National Museum

The museum's role in cultural growth was recognized as contributing to government's desire for national development.[7] In 1966, President Ferdinand Marcos signed Republic Act No. 4846 or the Cultural Properties and Protection Act.[citation needed] In 2013, President Noynoy Aquino launched the construction of the National Museum of Natural History, which opened in 2018. Aquino also backed the construction and development of several regional museums, including the museums in Batanes, Vigan, Marinduque, Bohol and Iloilo, among others, while supporting the heritage preservation projects of the National Museum, including the restoration of churches damaged by natural calamities, including churches in Cebu, Bohol, and Eastern Samar.[8] In 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte changed the agency's name from National Museum to National Museum of the Philippines through Republic Act No. 11333.[9]


Central museums

Main article: National Museum Complex (Manila)

National Museum of Fine Arts

The National Museum Complex consist of the central museums of the National Museum of the Philippines. These are the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Anthropology, and the National Museum of Natural History. The National Planetarium was also part of this complex.

Museum Opened
National Museum of Fine Arts 2000
National Museum of Anthropology 1998
National Museum of Natural History 2018

Satellite museums

Butuan National Museum
The Central Visayas National Museum in Cebu City.
The Western Visayas National Museum in Iloilo City.
Zamboanga National Museum

The National Museum has also established numerous satellite museums outside Metro Manila.

Regional museums

Museum Location Opened
NM Cordillera Regional Museum
(National Museum Cordillera)
Kiangan, Ifugao 1984
NM Ilocos Regional Museum Complex
(National Museum Ilocos)
Vigan and Magsingal, Ilocos Sur
NM Cagayan Valley Regional Museum
(National Museum Cagayan Valley)
Peñablanca, Cagayan 1980s
NM Bicol Regional Museum
(National Museum Bicol)
Daraga, Albay
NM Central Visayas Regional Museum
(National Museum Central Visayas)
Cebu City 2023
NM Western Visayas Regional Museum
(National Museum Western Visayas)
Iloilo City 2019
NM Davao Regional Museum
(National Museum Davao)
Davao City 2024
NM Eastern-Northern Mindanao Regional Museum
(National Museum Eastern-Northern Mindanao)
Butuan 1978
NM Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Museum
(National Museum Zamboanga Peninsula)
Zamboanga City 1986

Area museums

National Museum Sulu
Museum Location Opened
NM Batanes Area Museum
(National Museum Batanes)
Uyugan, Batanes 2012
NM Marinduque-Romblon Area Museum
(National Museum Marinduque-Romblon)
Boac, Marinduque 1995
NM Bohol Area Museum
(National Museum Bohol)
Tagbilaran, Bohol 2018
NM Sulu Archipelago Area Museum
(National Museum Sulu)
Jolo, Sulu 1982
NM Dumaguete Museum Dumaguete, Negros Oriental 2022

Site museums

Museum Location Opened
NM Kabayan Burial Caves Site Museum
(National Museum Kabayan)
Kabayan, Benguet 1982
NM Tabon Caves Site Museum Quezon, Palawan 1972
Angono Binangonan Petroglyphs Angono and Binangonan, Rizal

Former facilities


The National Museum had a satellite museum in Bolinao, Pangasinan. It was an archeological museum featuring historic objects retrieved from the different parts of the province. It first opened in 1970.[10]

National Planetarium

Main article: National Planetarium (Manila)

National Planetarium

The Planetarium was planned in the 1970s by former National Museum Director Godofredo Alcasid Sr. with the assistance of Mr. Maximo P. Sacro Jr. of the Philippine Weather bureau and one of the founders of the Philippine Astronomical Society.

The building started on construction on 1974 and completed 9 months after. It was formally inaugurated on October 8, 1975. The Presidential Decree No. 804-A, issued on September 30, 1975, affirmed the Planetarium's status. The Planetarium is located between the Japanese Garden and the Chinese Garden at the Rizal Park.[11]

Seminars and lectures

The National Museum offers numerous lectures, workshops, and seminars annually. However, most of these events happen at the museums within Metro Manila. More than 80% of provinces in the country have yet to possess a museum under the authority of the National Museum. A partial reason for this lacking is the non-existence of a Department of Culture. In late 2016, a bill establishing the Department of Culture and the Arts and another bill strengthening the National Museum, including its regional museums, were filed in the Senate. Both bills were formally introduced in early 2017, but neither prospered in the legislation process due to lack of support from lawmakers.[12]

Repatriation of artefacts

In 2023, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC agreed to return the remains of 64 Filipinos that it acquired without consent during the American occupation for anthropological research, including to support racist beliefs about white supremacy, and stored at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, to the National Museum following discussions with the latter and the Philippine Embassy.[13]

In February 2024, the museum received a donation of four early 19th-century panels depicting various saints from the pulpit of Boljoon Church in Cebu from Union Bank of the Philippines CEO Edwin Bautista. The news of the donation led to demands from the Archdiocese of Cebu as well as officials and residents of the province for the panels to be repatriated, citing the fact that they had went missing from the church during the 1980s due to either theft or an illegal sale by the parish priest.[14] In response, the museum said that it was open to share the panels with Cebu, adding that the donors procured the panels through legitimate means, “highlighting their commitment to ethical acquisition.”[15] A copy of the deed of donation of the panels obtained by Rappler read that the panels should stay with the museum, which would hold them in perpetuity and put them on display, while acknowledging that the panels came from Boljoon Church.[16] On April 1, the Cebu Provincial Board passed a motion to file charges against the National Museum and others who took custody over the panels.[17]


  1. ^ "Commemorative Program for the 111th Foundation Day of the National Museum" (PDF). Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  2. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ "An Act Strengthening the National Museum of the Philippines, Repealing for the Purpose R.A. No. 8492, Otherwise Known as the "National Museum Act of 1998", and Appropriating Funds Therefor". The LawPhil Project. Retrieved November 23, 2022.
  5. ^ a b "History". National Museum of the Philippines. Retrieved December 11, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c "History of the National Museum". National Museum of the Philippines. Retrieved December 11, 2022.
  7. ^ Ferdinand Marcos, New Filipinism: The Turning Point, State of the Nation Message to the Congress of the Philippines, January 27, 1969 [on-line] accessed from
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Duterte signs law giving more powers the National Museum of the PH » Manila Bulletin News". Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  10. ^ "Bolonao branch". National Museum of the Philippines. Retrieved December 11, 2022.
  11. ^ Branches of the National Museum. National Museum of the Philippines
  12. ^ "LOREN LEGARDA: Sponsorship Speech: Senate Bill No. 1529, Committee Report No. 140". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  13. ^ "US museum to return Filipino remains collected for research without consent". Benar News. August 15, 2023. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  14. ^ "Panels stolen from Cebu church surface in National Museum; Cebuanos want them back". Rappler. February 18, 2024. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  15. ^ "National Museum open to 'sharing' pulpit panels with Cebu". GMA News. February 19, 2024. Retrieved February 26, 2024.
  16. ^ "Donation docs specify Boljoon panels stay with National Museum". Rappler. March 4, 2024. Retrieved March 4, 2024.
  17. ^ "Cebu Capitol to file case vs National Museum officials over 'stolen' church panels". Rappler. April 1, 2024. Retrieved April 1, 2024.

Further reading